• Synthesis and Cytotoxicity Studies of Wood-Based Cationic Cellulose Nanocrystals as Potential Immunomodulators

      Imtiaz, Yusha; Tuga, Beza; Smith, Christopher W.; Rabideau, Alexander; Nguyen, Long; Liu, Yali; Hrapovic, Sabahudin; Ckless, Karina; Sunasee, Rajesh (MDPI AG, 2020-08-15)
      Polysaccharides have been shown to have immunomodulatory properties. Modulation of the immune system plays a crucial role in physiological processes as well as in the treatment and/or prevention of autoimmune and infectious diseases. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are derived from cellulose, the most abundant polysaccharide on the earth. CNCs are an emerging class of crystalline nanomaterials with exceptional physico-chemical properties for high-end applications and commercialization prospects. The aim of this study was to design, synthesize, and evaluate the cytotoxicity of a series of biocompatible, wood-based, cationic CNCs as potential immunomodulators. The anionic CNCs were rendered cationic by grafting with cationic polymers having pendant +NMe3 and +NH3 moieties. The success of the synthesis of the cationic CNCs was evidenced by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, zeta potential, and elemental analysis. No modification in the nanocrystals rod-like shape was observed in transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy analyses. Cytotoxicity studies using three different cell-based assays (MTT, Neutral Red, and LIVE/DEAD®) and three relevant mouse and human immune cells indicated very low cytotoxicity of the cationic CNCs in all tested experimental conditions. Overall, our results showed that cationic CNCs are suitable to be further investigated as immunomodulators and potential vaccine nanoadjuvants.