Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy studies of alginate-PLL capsules with varying compositions

CG van Hoogmoed*, HJ Busscher, P de Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Microencapsulation of cells is a promising approach to prevention of rejection in the absence of immunosuppression. Clinical application, however, is hampered by insufficient insight into the factors that influence the biocompatibility of the capsules. Capsules prepared of alginates with a high guluronic (G) acid content proved to be more adequate for clinical application since they are more stable, but, unfortunately, they are less biocompatible than capsules prepared of intermediate-G alginate. In order to get some insight into the physicochemical factors that influence the biocompatibility of capsules for the encapsulation of living cells, the chemical compositions of alginate-Ca beads and alginate-PLL capsules were studied by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. We found that during the transition of the alginate-Ca beads to alginate-PLL capsules, Ca connecting the alginate molecules, disappeared at the surface of both high-G and intermediate-G alginate-PLL capsules. At the same time, it turned out that high-G alginate-PLL capsules contained more hydrogen bonding than did intermediate-G alginate capsules. Thus the well-known higher stability of high-G alginate-PLL compared to intermediate-G alginate-PLL capsules is not caused by a higher degree of binding to Ca of the alginate molecules but rather by the presence of more hydrogen bonds. Another observation was that after the transition from bead to capsule, high-G alginate-PLL capsules contained 20% more PLL than the intermediate-G alginate-PLL capsules. Finally, we show that in both high-G and intermediate-G alginate-PLL capsules, the PLL exists in the a-helix, in the antiparallel beta-sheet, and in the random coil conformation. This study shows that FT-IR allows for successful analyses of the chemical factors essential for understanding differences in the biocompatibility of alginate-PLL capsules. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-178
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research. Part A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2003


  • FT-IR
  • alginate
  • poly-L-lysine
  • encapsulation
  • immunoisolation
  • FT-IR

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