Palmitoylation of xanthan polysaccharide for self-assembly microcapsule formation and encapsulation of cells in physiological conditions

Ana Carina Loureiro Mendes, Erkan Tuerker Baran, Claudia Nunes, Manuel A. Coimbra, Helena Sepulveda Azevedo, Rui Luis Reis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Hydrophobized polysaccharides have emerged as a promising strategy in the biomedical field due to the versatility to design functional structures through the spontaneous self-assembly in cell-friendly conditions. Based on this concept, xanthan, a bacterial extracellular polysaccharide with potential as encapsulating matrix, was conjugated with hydrophobic palmitoyl groups to obtain an amphiphilic system able to form capsules by self-assembly processes. The conjugation of xanthan was performed at different xanthan/palmitoyl chloride ratios and Fourier transformed infrared, H-1 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies, as well as wide angle X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry were performed to characterize the obtained conjugates. The results showed that the increase in the hydrophobic reactant promoted higher hydrophobic interaction and consequently higher molecular organization. At certain palmitoyl concentrations and through a proper balance between charge repulsion and hydrophobic interaction, the amphiphilic molecules self-assembled into stable capsular hollow structures in the presence of physiological ion concentration and pH. Poly-L-lysine coated microcapsules with an average diameter of 576.6 +/- 74 mu m and homogenous size distribution were obtained. The morphology revealed by scanning electron microscopy showed microcapsules with two distinct layers. The ability of palmitoyl-xanthan microcapsules to sustain viability and proliferation of encapsulated cells was confirmed by AlamarBlue and DNA assays. These findings suggest the application of palmitoyl-xanthan microcapsules as a potential material for cell encapsulation in cell-based therapies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number20
Pages (from-to)9647-9658
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino acids
  • Cells
  • Chlorine compounds
  • Differential scanning calorimetry
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Physiology
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Self assembly
  • X ray diffraction
  • Encapsulation
  • Bacteria (microorganisms)
  • Amphiphilic molecules
  • Amphiphilic systems
  • Average diameter
  • Biomedical fields
  • Cell encapsulations
  • Cell-based therapy
  • Charge repulsion
  • DNA assays
  • Encapsulated cell
  • Extracellular polysaccharides
  • Fourier
  • Functional structure
  • Hollow structure
  • Hydrophobic interactions
  • Ion concentrations
  • matrix
  • Microcapsule formation
  • Microcapsules
  • Molecular organization
  • Palmitoylation
  • Physiological condition
  • Poly-L-Lysine
  • Potential materials
  • Self assembly process
  • Self-assembled
  • Wide angle Xray diffraction
  • GUM


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