Advanced microfabrication technologies and biocompatible hydrogel materials facilitate the modeling of 3D tissue microenvironment. Encapsulation of cells in hydrogel microparticles offers an excellent high-throughput platform for investigating multicellular interaction with their surrounding microenvironment. Compartmentalized microparticles support formation of various unique cellular structures. Alginate has emerged as one of the most dominant hydrogel materials for cell encapsulation owing to its cytocompatibility, ease of gelation, and biocompatibility. Alginate hydrogel provides a permeable physical boundary to the encapsulated cells and develops an easily manageable 3D cellular structure. The interior structure of alginate hydrogel can further regulate the spatiotemporal distribution of the embedded cells. This review provides a specific overview of the representative engineering approaches to generate various structures of cell-laden alginate microparticles in a uniform and reproducible manner. Capillary nozzle systems, microfluidic droplet systems, and non-chip based high-throughput microfluidic systems are highlighted for developing well-regulated cellular structure in alginate microparticles to realize potential drug screening platform and cell-based therapy. We conclude with the discussion of current limitations and future directions for realizing the translation of this technology to the clinic.

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