PloS one

Alginate hydrogel protects encapsulated hepatic HuH-7 cells against hepatitis C virus and other viral infections.

PMID 25310111


Cell microencapsulation in alginate hydrogel has shown interesting applications in regenerative medicine and the biomedical field through implantation of encapsulated tissue or for bioartificial organ development. Although alginate solution is known to have low antiviral activity, the same property regarding alginate gel has not yet been studied. The aim of this work is to investigate the potential protective effect of alginate encapsulation against hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection for a hepatic cell line (HuH-7) normally permissive to the virus. Our results showed that alginate hydrogel protects HuH-7 cells against HCV when the supernatant was loaded with HCV. In addition, alginate hydrogel blocked HCV particle release out of the beads when the HuH-7 cells were previously infected and encapsulated. There was evidence of interaction between the molecules of alginate hydrogel and HCV, which was dose- and incubation time-dependent. The protective efficiency of alginate hydrogel towards HCV infection was confirmed against a variety of viruses, whether or not they were enveloped. This promising interaction between an alginate matrix and viruses, whose chemical mechanisms are discussed, is of great interest for further medical therapeutic applications based on tissue engineering.