There has been a growing interest in using biofunctionalized magnetic particles for cell isolation. This paper describes the synthesis and characterization of magnetite-polymer (Fe3O4-poly-ɛ-caprolactone, magnetite-PCL) microparticles surface functionalized with amino and epoxy groups allowing easy covalent attachment of specific antibodies and subsequent ability to bind target cells. Particles with different sizes (4–135 µm), spherical shape and superparamagnetic behaviour (magnetite content of about 13 wt%) were obtained. The functionalized microparticles presented high protein-binding capacity (coupling efficiency of 47% for epoxy- and 71% for amino-functionalized particles) with a low level of non-specific binding. We have further investigated the influence of initial protein concentration, pH, ionic strength, temperature and incubation time on the capacity of amino-functionalized particles to bind protein molecules. The results showed that maximum protein coupling is rapidly achieved (≤5 h) at pH 5.5 and low ionic strength (0.05 M NaCl). Furthermore, when cultured in direct contact with osteoblast-like cells (Saos-2) or human-derived adipose stem cells (ASCs), the amino-functionalized particles did not affect the proliferation and morphology of the cells. As a proof of principle for the application of magnetic microparticles for cell isolation, CD105 (endoglin) antibody was coupled to the magnetic particle surface to bind subpopulations of human ASCs expressing the CD105 antigen. The isolation of CD105+ ASCs from a heterogeneous cell population was confirmed by flow cytometry analysis. Given the demonstrated potential of functionalized magnetite-PCL microparticles for selective cell isolation, we expect that these particles may be further applied in immuno-magnetic cell separation owing to their versatility and ease of surface modification
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