Investigating the effect of sterilisation methods on the physical properties and cytocompatibility of methyl cellulose used in combination with alginate for 3D-bioplotting of chondrocytes

  • Ella HodderEmail author
  • Sarah Duin
  • David Kilian
  • Tilman Ahlfeld
  • Julia Seidel
  • Carsten Nachtigall
  • Peter Bush
  • Derek Covill
  • Michael Gelinsky
  • Anja LodeEmail author
S.I.: Biofabrication and Bioinks for Tissue Engineering Original Research
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. S.I.: Biofabrication and Bioinks for Tissue Engineering


For both the incorporation of cells and future therapeutic applications the sterility of a biomaterial must be ensured. However, common sterilisation techniques are intense and often negatively impact on material physicochemical attributes, which can affect its suitability for tissue engineering and 3D printing. In the present study four sterilisation methods, autoclave, supercritical CO2 (scCO2) treatment, UV- and gamma (γ) irradiation were evaluated regarding their impact on material properties and cellular responses. The investigations were performed on methyl cellulose (MC) as a component of an alginate/methyl cellulose (alg/MC) bioink, used for bioprinting embedded bovine primary chondrocytes (BPCs). In contrast to the autoclave, scCO2 and UV-treatments, the γ-irradiated MC resulted in a strong reduction in alg/MC viscosity and stability after extrusion which made this method unsuitable for precise bioprinting. Gel permeation chromatography analysis revealed a significant reduction in MC molecular mass only after γ-irradiation, which influenced MC chain mobility in the Ca2+-crosslinked alginate network as well as gel composition and microstructure. With regard to cell survival and proteoglycan matrix production, the results determined UV-irradiation and autoclaving as the best candidates for sterilisation. The scCO2-treatment of MC resulted in an unfavourable cell response indicating that this method needs careful optimisation prior to application for cell encapsulation. As proven by consistent FT-IR spectra, chemical alterations could be excluded as a cause for the differences seen between MC treatments on alg/MC behaviour. This investigation provides knowledge for the development of a clinically appropriate 3D-printing-based fabrication process to produce bioengineered tissue for cartilage regeneration.



The authors thank Ms Ortrud Zieschang for preparation of SEM samples, the microscopy facility CFCI of the TU Dresden for providing equipment and support in cell imaging as well as the Institute of Natural Materials Technology, Chair of Food Engineering at TU Dresden for the opportunity to perform gel permeation chromatography (GPC). This work was supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Free State of Saxony (Young Researchers Group IndivImp at Technische Universität Dresden), the German Research Society (DFG) as part of the priority program SPP 1934 as well as the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD). Partial funding was received from a Santander Research Scholarship, awarded to Ella Hodder.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary figures


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computing, Engineering and MathematicsUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  2. 2.School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular ScienceUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  3. 3.Centre for Translational Bone, Joint and Soft Tissue Research, Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav CarusTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Natural Materials TechnologyTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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