Engineering of Biocompatible Coacervate-Based Synthetic Cells

Marleen H.M.E. Van Stevendaal, Laurynas Vasiukas, N. Amy Yewdall, Alexander F. Mason (Corresponding author), Jan C.M. van Hest (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Polymer-stabilized complex coacervate microdroplets have emerged as a robust platform for synthetic cell research. Their unique core-shell properties enable the sequestration of high concentrations of biologically relevant macromolecules and their subsequent release through the semipermeable membrane. These unique properties render the synthetic cell platform highly suitable for a range of biomedical applications, as long as its biocompatibility upon interaction with biological cells is ensured. The purpose of this study is to investigate how the structure and formulation of these coacervate-based synthetic cells impact the viability of several different cell lines. Through careful examination of the individual synthetic cell components, it became evident that the presence of free polycation and membrane-forming polymer had to be prevented to ensure cell viability. After closely examining the structure-toxicity relationship, a set of conditions could be found whereby no detrimental effects were observed, when the artificial cells were cocultured with RAW264.7 cells. This opens up a range of possibilities to use this modular system for biomedical applications and creates design rules for the next generation of coacervate-based, biomedically relevant particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7879-7889
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2021


This research was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Gravitation Program 024.001.035) and the ERC Advanced Grant (Artisym 694120).

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme694120
European Research Council
Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap024.001.035


    • biocompatibility
    • block copolymers
    • complex coacervates
    • polycations
    • protocells
    • self-assembly
    • synthetic cells
    • Amylose/chemical synthesis
    • Biocompatible Materials/chemical synthesis
    • Humans
    • Cells, Cultured
    • Artificial Cells/chemistry
    • Materials Testing
    • Cell Survival/drug effects
    • Polymers/chemical synthesis
    • Particle Size
    • Animals
    • Surface Properties
    • Cell Engineering
    • RAW 264.7 Cells
    • Mice
    • Molecular Structure
    • HeLa Cells


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