Apple derived cellulose scaffolds for 3D mammalian cell culture

PLoS One. 2014 May 19;9(5):e97835. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097835. eCollection 2014.


There are numerous approaches for producing natural and synthetic 3D scaffolds that support the proliferation of mammalian cells. 3D scaffolds better represent the natural cellular microenvironment and have many potential applications in vitro and in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that 3D cellulose scaffolds produced by decellularizing apple hypanthium tissue can be employed for in vitro 3D culture of NIH3T3 fibroblasts, mouse C2C12 muscle myoblasts and human HeLa epithelial cells. We show that these cells can adhere, invade and proliferate in the cellulose scaffolds. In addition, biochemical functionalization or chemical cross-linking can be employed to control the surface biochemistry and/or mechanical properties of the scaffold. The cells retain high viability even after 12 continuous weeks of culture and can achieve cell densities comparable with other natural and synthetic scaffold materials. Apple derived cellulose scaffolds are easily produced, inexpensive and originate from a renewable source. Taken together, these results demonstrate that naturally derived cellulose scaffolds offer a complementary approach to existing techniques for the in vitro culture of mammalian cells in a 3D environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cellulose / analysis*
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Malus / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Myoblasts
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*


  • Cellulose

Grants and funding

This work was made possible by support from the University of Ottawa and a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grant. C.L. was supported by an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award, Z.A.R. was supported by a graduate fellowship from the NSERC-CREATE Training Program in Quantitative. A.E.P. acknowledges generous support from the Canada Research Chairs Program and a Province of Ontario Early Researcher Award. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.