Nowadays alginate capsules exhibit good biocompatibility and high permeability for nutrients and metabolic wastes making them appealing biomaterial for therapeutic cell encapsulation. Further study of the characteristics of alginate beads which are highly dependent on various environmental conditions to create an optimum micro environment for cells is also critical. Thus, in this study, the effect of concentration variation on the physical properties of alginate-based beads and entrapped-cells behavior was analyzed. Results showed that the increase of Ca ions concentration brought about the decrease of the average diameter, prolongation of dissolution time, reduction of permeability and swelling, and a rise of crosslinking extent and shrinkage of capsules; while raising sodium alginate concentration had an opposite effect on the diameter and shrinkage. Moreover, the addition of gelatin enhanced the penetration and swelling and slowed down the shrinkage of capsules. And MC3T3-E1 cells enclosed in the particles in which the concentration of calcium chloride, sodium alginate and gelatin was 2.5%, 2.0% and 0.5% (w/v %) had preferable abilities of proliferation and higher expression of alkaline phosphatase. Overall, the ability to tailor this system to support in vitro growth of MC3T3-E1 cells might have significance for the future use of other cell types in regenerative medicine. (C) 2019 Published by Elsevier B.V.