Alpha-modified minimum essential medium (αMEM) has been found to cross-link a 1% gellan gum solution, resulting in the formation of a self-supporting hydrogel in 1:1 and 5:1 ratios of polysaccharide: αMEM. Rheological data from temperature sweeps confirm that in addition to orders of magnitude differences in G' between 1% gellan and 1% gellan with αMEM, there is also a 20°C increase in the temperature at which the onset of gelation takes place when αMEM is present. Frequency sweeps confirm the formation of a true gel; mechanical spectra for mixtures of gellan and αMEM clearly demonstrate G' to be independent of frequency. It is possible to immobilize cells within a three-dimensional (3D) gellan matrix that remain viable for up to 21 days in culture by adding a suspension of rat bone marrow cells (rBMC) in αMEM to 1% gellan solution. This extremely simple approach to cell immobilization within 3D constructs, made possible by the fact that gellan solutions cross-link in the presence of millimolar concentrations of cations, poses a very low risk to a cell population immobilized within a gellan matrix and thus indicates the potential of gellan for use as a tissue engineering scaffold. © 2007 Sage Publications.
- cell viability