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Stem Cells International
Volume 2019, Article ID 3106929, 12 pages
Research Article

Optically Transparent Anionic Nanofibrillar Cellulose Is Cytocompatible with Human Adipose Tissue-Derived Stem Cells and Allows Simple Imaging in 3D

1Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Group, School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Whiteknights Campus, Reading RG6 6AP, UK
2Sheard BioTech Ltd, 1st Floor Sheraton House, Lower Road, Chorleywood WD3 5LH, UK
3Unidad de Inmunología, IBIMER, Universidad de Granada, Granada 18071, Spain
4Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, Philippa Fawcett Drive, Cambridge CB3 0AS, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Darius Widera;

Received 12 February 2019; Accepted 17 July 2019; Published 7 October 2019

Academic Editor: Katia Mareschi

Copyright © 2019 Jonathan J. Sheard et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are a focus within regenerative medicine. However, 2D cultivation of MSCs for extended periods results in abnormal cell polarity, chromosomal changes, reduction in viability, and altered differentiation potential. As an alternative, various 3D hydrogels have been developed which mimic the endogenous niche of MSCs. Nevertheless, imaging cells embedded within 3D hydrogels often suffers from low signal-to-noise ratios which can be at least partly attributed to the high light absorbance and light scattering of the hydrogels in the visible light spectrum. In this study, human adipose tissue-derived MSCs (ADSCs) are cultivated within an anionic nanofibrillar cellulose (aNFC) hydrogel. It is demonstrated that aNFC forms nanofibres arranged as a porous network with low light absorbance in the visible spectrum. Moreover, it is shown that aNFC is cytocompatible, allowing for MSC proliferation, maintaining cell viability and multilineage differentiation potential. Finally, aNFC is compatible with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and light microscopy including the application of conventional dyes, fluorescent probes, indirect immunocytochemistry, and calcium imaging. Overall, the results indicate that aNFC represents a promising 3D material for the expansion of MSCs whilst allowing detailed examination of cell morphology and cellular behaviour.