Partial Coated Stem Cells with Bioinspired Silica as New Generation of Cellular Hybrid Materials


The manipulation of cell surfaces in anchorage-dependent cells can help overcome difficulties presented during cell handling and application. Silica-based protective mechanisms existing in free-floating microorganisms may be used as inspiration for sustaining human cell survival in suspension. Gathering on this, herein human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hASCs) are partially coated with a hard silica layer that operates as a supporting platform for individual cells in suspension. Inspired by the organic templates involved in biosilicification, a novel chitosan (CHT) derivative displaying fully natural quaternary amine moieties is synthetized via a rapid, one-pot strategy. Silicification is promoted on individual hASCs surfaces via a two-step process: a priming step onto previously adhered cell with this CHT derivative, followed by a biocompatible sol-gel process. hASCs holding a silica backpack exhibit enhanced cell survival in suspension conditions and can spread and acquire a more adherent phenotype. This new protocol for cell-surface modification also provides a new generation of hybrid materials with functionalization of the silica backpack, which can be applied to different areas such as tissue engineering, biosensing, drug delivery, and targeted cell-based therapies.

subject category

Chemistry, Multidisciplinary; Chemistry, Physical; Nanoscience & Nanotechnology; Materials Science, Multidisciplinary; Physics, Applied; Physics, Condensed Matter


Maciel, MM; Correia, TR; Gaspar, VM; Rodrigues, JMM; Choi, IS; Mano, JF

our authors


The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the European Research Council (ERC) for project ATLAS (ERC2014-ADG-669858) and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through the Ph.D. grant PD/BD/139117/2018 (M.M.M.). This work was developed within the scope of the projects CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials (UIDB/50011/2020 and UIDP/50011/2020), COP2P (PTDC/QUI-QOR/30771/2017), and SUPRASORT (PTDC/QUI-OUT/30658/2017 and CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-030658) financed by national funds through FCT/MCTES and when appropriately cofinanced by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Programa Operacional Regional do Centro - Centro 2020, and within the scope of the Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET project BLUETEETH (ERA-MBT/0002/2015) financed by FCT under EU FP7 (Grant agreement number: 604814). Image acquisition was performed in the LiM facility of iBiMED, a node of Portuguese Platform of BioImaging (PPBI): POCI-01-0145-FEDER-022122. To Sonia G. Patricio for SEM/EDS images acquisition.

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