Alginate/Methylcellulose Blends for 3D printing

The Instant Recipe for Tissue Engineering?

The group of Prof. Michael Gelinsky at the Technische Universität Dresden conducted a study to overcome the limitations of biofabrication with cell-friendly TE Materials. The aim of the study was to develop a plotting material that is based on alginate, the probably most popular substrate material for biological 3D printing. The goal was to find a composition optimized both for printing and for cell embedding.


Basically a rather easy approach was used: Addition of Methylcellulose (MC) to low concentrated alginate. That leads to an enhanced viscosity and therefore improved printing conditions. The MC did not contribute to the gelation and was released from the scaffolds during the following cultivation. Mesenchymal stem cells were added to the alginate-MC blend and showed high viability after several weeks of cultivation within the plotted scaffolds.

3D plotting of alginate-based hydrogel scaffolds

3D plotting of alginate-based hydrogel scaffolds: (A) 3 wt% alginate without methylcellulose, four layers; (B) 3 wt% alginate + 9 wt% methylcellulose (alg/MC), four layers; (C) alg/MC, 20 layers; (D) alg/MC, 50 layers; (insert) top view. [1]

In this work both cytocompatibility and mechanical properties of the alg/MC material were investigated. The developed plotting material allows to print 3D objects in the centimetre range and even complex geometries.

[1] Kathleen Schütz, Anna-Maria Placht, Birgit Paul, Sophie Brüggemeier, Michael Gelinsky and Anja Lode: Three-dimensional plotting of a cell-laden alginate/methylcellulose blend: towards biofabrication of tissue engineering constructs with clinically relevant dimensions, Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Article first published online: 22 JUL 2015




Centre for Translational Bone, Joint and Soft Tissue Research
Technische Universität Dresden