Fibrillized peptide microgels for cell encapsulation and 3D cell culture.


One of the advantages of materials produced by self-assembly is that in principle they can be formed in any given container to produce materials of predetermined shapes and sizes. Here, we developed a method for triggering peptide self-assembly within the aqueous phase of water-in-oil emulsions to produce spherical microgels composed of fibrillized peptides. Size control over the microgels was achieved by specification of blade type, speed, and additional shear steps in the emulsion process. Microgels constructed in this way could then be embedded within other self-assembled peptide matrices by mixing pre-formed microgels with un-assembled peptides and inducing gelation of the entire composite, offering a route towards multi-peptide materials with micron-scale domains of different peptide formulations. The gels themselves were cytocompatible, as was the microgel fabrication procedure, enabling the encapsulation of NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and C3H10T-1/2 mouse pluripotent stem cells with good viability.