Influence of Charge and Heat on the Mechanical Properties of Scaffolds from Ionic Complexation of Chitosan and Carboxymethyl Cellulose

Andreja Dobaj Štiglic, Rupert Kargl, Marco Beaumont, Christine Strauss, Damjan Makuc, Dominik Egger, Janez Plavec, Orlando J. Rojas, Karin Stana Kleinschek*, Tamilselvan Mohan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)


As one of the most abundant, multifunctional biological polymers, polysaccharides are considered promising materials to prepare tissue engineering scaffolds. When properly designed, wetted porous scaffolds can have biomechanics similar to living tissue and provide suitable fluid transport, both of which are key features for in vitro and in vivo tissue growth. They can further mimic the components and function of glycosaminoglycans found in the extracellular matrix of tissues. In this study, we investigate scaffolds formed by charge complexation between anionic carboxymethyl cellulose and cationic protonated chitosan under well-controlled conditions. Freeze-drying and dehydrothermal heat treatment were then used to obtain porous materials with exceptional, unprecendent mechanical properties and dimensional long-term stability in cell growth media. We investigated how complexation conditions, charge ratio, and heat treatment significantly influence the resulting fluid uptake and biomechanics. Surprisingly, materials with high compressive strength, high elastic modulus, and significant shape recovery are obtained under certain conditions. We address this mostly to a balanced charge ratio and the formation of covalent amide bonds between the polymers without the use of additional cross-linkers. The scaffolds promoted clustered cell adhesion and showed no cytotoxic effects as assessed by cell viability assay and live/dead staining with human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells. We suggest that similar scaffolds or biomaterials comprising other polysaccharides have a large potential for cartilage tissue engineering and that elucidating the reason for the observed peculiar biomechanics can stimulate further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3618–3632
Number of pages15
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number8
Early online date15 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • carboxymethyl cellulose
  • charge complexation
  • chitosan
  • dehydrothermal treatment
  • freeze-drying
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • polyelectrolytes
  • porous scaffolds
  • tissue engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of Charge and Heat on the Mechanical Properties of Scaffolds from Ionic Complexation of Chitosan and Carboxymethyl Cellulose'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this