Target Health Blog

Medical Research Using Plants as Scaffolds for Human Tissue & Organs

May 15, 2017


Parsley Plant; Credit: Jonathunder - Own work, GFDL 1.2,

Researchers at the University of Washington-Madison were able to grow skin, brain, bone marrow and blood 1) ___ on plants using a highly-specialized, natural scaffolding from plants like parsley. The researchers collaborated with the Olbrich Botanical Gardens to identify plant species that show scaffolding potential, which in turn could be turned into structures for biomedical purposes. The researchers observed that certain plant species possess strength, rigidity and porosity as well as low mass and surface area, and that these characteristics make for a structurally-efficient 2) ___. The researchers also noted that plants have really high surface area to volume ratio, while their porous structure facilitates fluid transport, and that 3D printed stem cell scaffold helped support, feed and organize the cells. John Wirth, Olbrich's conservatory curator, said the idea was a good way to use the living plant material to develop 3) ___ tissue. Parsley, orchid, and vanilla were among the plant species chosen for the study. Bamboo, wasabi, and elephant ear plant were also among the plants where cellulose was derived since plants have a huge capacity to grow 4) ___ populations According Bill Murphy, co-director of the UW-Madison Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, plants can deliver fluids very efficiently to their leaves and at the microscale, they're very well organized. Murphy added that the vast diversity in the plant kingdom provides virtually any size and shape of interest, and that plants are extraordinarily good at cultivating new tissues and 5) ___. Plants, therefore, represent a tremendous feedstock of new materials for tissue engineering applications.


Study details: Cellulose and 3D scaffolding techniques


The researchers decellularized the plant materials leaving only cellulose, the basic components of a plant's cell walls. The team then added peptides to serve as biological fasteners since human cells have no affinity to cellulose. Advanced technologies such as 3D printing and injection molding were used to create the three-dimensional scaffolds. It was found that eliminating all the other cells that make up the plant and retaining only the 6) ___ husks encouraged human stem cells such as fibroblasts to attach to the scaffold and develop miniature structures. Fibroblasts are common connective tissue cells that result from stem cell cultivation. Stem cells seeded into the scaffold also appeared to align themselves along its structure. This mechanism indicates a potential to use the materials in order to regulate the structure and alignment of developing human tissues, which may prove crucial for nerve and muscle tissues that need alignment and patterning. The plant scaffolds proved to be pliable, inexpensive, renewable and can be easily mass-7) ___, Murphy said. The researchers plan to conduct the efficacy of plant scaffolds in animal studies. While plant toxicity is highly unlikely, it could trigger immune responses when the plant scaffolds were implanted to mammals. However, significant immune response may not be apparent in their prospective study as plant cells were already taken out of the scaffolds. According to the researchers, the results suggest that plants may serve as an alternative to artificial scaffolds used in growing stem cells. Growing clusters of human stem cells that mimic organs in the laboratory may also be used on tissue implants in the near future. The findings were published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.


Short History of Parsley


Apiole is a phenylpropene, also known as apiol, parsley apiol or parsley camphor. Its chemical name is 1-allyl-2,5-dimethoxy-3,4-methylenedioxybenzene. It is found in the essential oils of celery leaf and all parts of 8) ____. Heinrich Christoph Link, an apothecary in Leipzig, discovered the substance in 1715 as greenish crystals reduced by steam from oil of parsley. In 1855 Joret and Homolle discovered that apiol was an effective treatment of amenorrea or lack of menstruation. Parsley has been used In medicine as essential oil or in purified form, for the treatment of menstrual disorders and as an abortifacient. It is an irritant and, in high doses, it can cause liver and kidney 9) ___. Cases of death due to attempted abortion using apiol have been reported. Hippocrates wrote about parsley as a herb to cause an abortion. Plants containing apiole were used by women in the Middle Ages to terminate pregnancies. Now that safer methods of 10) ___ are available, apiol is almost forgotten.


Apiole (always with the final 'e') is the correct spelling of the trivial name for 1-allyl-2,5-dimethoxy-3,4-methylenedioxybenzene. Apiol, also known as 'liquid apiol' or 'green oil of parsley' is the extracted oleoresin of parsley, rather than the distilled oil. Its use was widespread in the USA, often as ergoapiol or apergol, until a highly toxic adulterated product containing apiol and tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate (also famous as the adulterant added to Jamaican ginger) was introduced on the American market. 1'-sulfoxy metabolite formation for apiole (3,4-OMe-safrole) is about 1/3 as active as safrole. No carcinogenicity was detected with parsley apiol or dill apiol in mice.


ANSWERS: 1) vessels; 2) scaffold; 3) human; 4) cell; 5) organs; 6) cellulose; 7) produced; 8) parsley; 9) damaged; 10) abortion

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