Polymer Cell Surface Coating Enhances Mesenchymal Stem Cell Retention and Cardiac Protection

Hsuan Peng, Lakshman Chelvarajan, Renee Donahue, Anuhya Gottipati, Calvin F. Cahall, Kara A. Davis, Himi Tripathi, Ahmed Al-Darraji, Eman Elsawalhy, Nicholas Dobrozsi, Amrita Srinivasan, Bryana M. Levitan, Raymond Kong, Erhe Gao, Ahmed Abdel-Latif, Brad J. Berron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy has been widely tested in clinical trials to promote healing post-myocardial infarction. However, low cell retention and the need for a large donor cell number in human studies remain a key challenge for clinical translation. Natural biomaterials such as gelatin are ideally suited as scaffolds to deliver and enhance cell engraftment after transplantation. A potential drawback of MSC encapsulation in the hydrogel is that the bulky matrix may limit their biological function and interaction with the surrounding tissue microenvironment that conveys important injury signals. To overcome this limitation, we adopted a gelatin methacrylate (gelMA) cell-coating technique that photocross-links gelatin on the individual cell surface at the nanoscale. The present study investigated the cardiac protection of gelMA coated, hypoxia preconditioned MSCs (gelMA-MSCs) in a murine myocardial infarction (MI) model. We demonstrate that the direct injection of gelMA-MSC results in significantly higher myocardial engraftment 7 days after MI compared to uncoated MSCs. GelMA-MSC further amplified MSC benefits resulting in enhanced cardioprotection as measured by cardiac function, scar size, and angiogenesis. Improved MSC cardiac retention also led to a greater cardiac immunomodulatory function after injury. Taken together, this study demonstrated the efficacy of gelMA-MSCs in treating cardiac injury with a promising potential to reduce the need for donor MSCs through enhanced myocardial engraftment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655-1667
Number of pages13
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells
  • cell coating
  • gelatin
  • myocardial infarction
  • polymer
  • retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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