Post-loading of proangiogenic growth factors in PLGA microspheres

Scheiner, Karina C., Maas-Bakker, Roel F., van Steenbergen, Mies J., Schwendeman, Steven P., Hennink, Wim E. & Kok, Robbert J.

Published: January 2021


Active self-encapsulation (ASE) is a recently developed post-loading method based on absorption of (positively charged) proteins in microporous PLGA microspheres loaded with negatively charged polysaccharides (trapping agents). The aim of this study was to investigate ASE for simultaneous loading and controlled release of multiple growth factors. For this purpose, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) were loaded in microspheres containing high molecular weight dextran sulfate (HDS) as trapping agent; loading was performed in a concentrated growth factor solution of low ionic strength and of pH 5 under conditions at which the proteins are positively charged. Subsequent pore closure was induced by incubation of the growth factor-loaded microspheres at 42.5 °C, i.e. above the Tg of (hydrated) PLGA (~30 °C). A 1:1:1 combination of VEGF, FGF and IGF was loaded with high loading (4.3%) and loading efficiency (91%). The in vitro release kinetics and bioactivity of loaded growth factors were studied for 4 weeks using ELISA and an endothelial cell proliferation assay, respectively. While IGF was released quickly, VEGF and FGF were continuously released for 4 weeks in their bioactive form, whereby a growth factor combination had a synergistic angiogenic effect. Therefore, ASE is a suitable method for co-loading growth factors which can provide sustained release profiles of bioactive growth factors, which is attractive for vascularization of biomaterial implants.

Full Access Link: European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics