The cellulose nanofibril hydrogel has physical and chemical properties that make it interesting for use in liver tissue engineering for drug testing or transplantation, and even gives the option for clinical use.

As an alternative to the animal derived Matrigel, we found that cellulose nanofibril hydrogel from plant material performs even better in human liver organoid differentiation.

Cellulose Nanofibril Hydrogel


To replicate functional liver tissue in vitro for drug testing or transplantation, 3D tissue engineering requires representative cell models as well as scaffolds that not only promote tissue production but also are applicable in a clinical setting.

Recently, adult liver‐derived liver organoids are found to be of much interest due to their genetic stability, expansion potential, and ability to differentiate toward a hepatocyte‐like fate.

webimage nanofibril hydrogel 1
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"current standard"

The current standard for culturing these organoids is a basement membrane hydrogel like Matrigel (MG), which is derived from murine tumor material and apart from its variability and high costs, possesses an undefined composition and is therefore not clinically applicable. Here, a cellulose nanofibril (CNF) hydrogel is investigated with regard to its potential to serve as an alternative clinical-grade scaffold to differentiate liver organoids.

The results show that its mechanical properties are suitable for differentiation with overall, either equal or improved, functionality of the hepatocyte‐like cells compared to MG. Therefore, and because of its defined and tunable chemical definition, the CNF hydrogel presents a viable alternative to MG for liver tissue engineering with the option for clinical use.


Melanie Krüger, Loes A. Oosterhoff, Monique E. van Wolferen, Simon A. Schiele, Andreas Walther, Niels Geijsen, Laura De Laporte, Luc J. W. van der Laan, Linda M. Kock, and Bart Spee.

The project leading to this publication has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 642687.


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