Modulation of protein delivery from modular polymer scaffolds

Min Lee, Tom T. Chen, M. Luisa Iruela-Arispe, Benjamin M. Wu, James C.Y. Dunn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Growth factors are increasingly employed to promote tissue regeneration with various biomaterial scaffolds. In vitro release kinetics of protein growth factors from tissue engineering scaffolds are often investigated in aqueous environment, which is significantly different from in vivo environment. This study investigates the release of model proteins with net-positive (histone) and net-negative charge (bovine serum albumin, BSA) from various scaffolding surfaces and from encapsulated microspheres in the presence of ions, proteins, and cells. The release kinetics of proteins in media with varying concentrations of ions (NaCl) suggests stronger electrostatic interaction between the positively charged histone with the negatively charged substrates. While both proteins released slowly from hydrophobic PCL surfaces, plasma etching resulted in rapid release of BSA, but not histone. Interestingly, although negatively charged BSA released readily from negatively charged collagen (col), BSA released slowly from col-coated PCL scaffolds. Such electrostatic interaction effects were abolished in the presence of serum proteins and cells as evidenced by the rapid release of proteins from col-coated scaffolds. To achieve sustained release in the complex environment of serum proteins and cells, the model proteins were encapsulated into poly(d,l-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres, which were embedded within col-coated PCL scaffolds. Protein release from microspheres was modulated by changing the lactide-to-glycolide ratio of PLGA polymer. BSA adsorbed to col released faster than histone encapsulated in microspheres in the presence of serum and cells. Collectively, the data suggest that growth factor release is highly influenced by scaffold surface and the presence of ions, proteins, and cells in the media. Strategies to deliver multiple growth factors and studies which investigate their release should consider these important variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1862-1870
Number of pages9
Issue number10
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Collagen
  • Controlled release
  • Growth factors
  • PLGA microspheres
  • Scaffolds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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