Engineered Plant-Based Nanocellulose Hydrogel for Small Intestinal Organoid Growth

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Organoids are three-dimensional self-renewing and organizing clusters of cells that recapitulate the behavior and functionality of developed organs. Referred to as “organs in a dish,” organoids are invaluable biological models for disease modeling or drug screening. Currently, organoid culture commonly relies on an expensive and undefined tumor-derived reconstituted basal membrane which hinders its application in high-throughput screening, regenerative medicine, and diagnostics. Here, we introduce a novel engineered plant-based nanocellulose hydrogel is introduced as a well-defined and low-cost matrix that supports organoid growth. Gels containing 0.1% nanocellulose fibers (99.9% water) are ionically crosslinked and present mechanical properties similar to the standard animal-based matrix. The regulation of the osmotic pressure is performed by a salt-free strategy, offering conditions for cell survival and proliferation. Cellulose nanofibers are functionalized with fibronectin-derived adhesive sites to provide the required microenvironment for small intestinal organoid growth and budding. Comparative transcriptomic profiling reveals a good correlation with transcriptome-wide gene expression pattern between organoids cultured in both materials, while differences are observed in stem cells-specific marker genes. These hydrogels are tunable and can be combined with laminin-1 and supplemented with insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) to optimize the culture conditions. Nanocellulose hydrogel emerges as a promising matrix for the growth of organoids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2002135
Number of pages11
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2020


  • hydrogels
  • nanocellulose
  • organoids
  • rheology
  • transcriptomic profile

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