Endotoxin contamination alters macrophage-cancer cell interaction and therapeutic efficacy in pre-clinical 3D in vitro models

Marcel Alexander Heinrich, Lena Heinrich, Marc J.K. Ankone, Bjorn Vergauwen, Jai Prakash*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


The rapid developments in biofabrication, in particular 3D bioprinting, in the recent years have facilitated the need for novel biomaterials that aim to replicate the target tissue in great detail. The presence of endotoxins in these biomaterials is often an overlooked problem. In pre-clinical 3D in vitro models, endotoxins can have significant influence on cell behavior and credibility of the model. In this study we demonstrate the effects of high levels of endotoxins in commercially-available gelatin on the macrophage-cancer cell crosstalk in a 3D bioprinted co-culture model. First, it is demonstrated that, while presenting the same mechanical and structural stimuli, high levels of endotoxin can have significant influence on the metabolic activity of macrophages and cancer cells. Furthermore, this study shows that high endotoxin contamination causes a strong inflammatory reaction in macrophages and significantly inhibits the effects of a paracrine macrophage-cancer cell co-culture. At last, it is demonstrated that the differences in endotoxin levels can drastically alter the efficacy of novel macrophage modulating immunotherapies, AS1517499 and 3-methyladenine. Altogether, this study shows that endotoxin contamination in biomaterials can significantly alter intra- and intercellular communication and thereby drug efficacy, which might lead to misinterpretation of the potency and safety of the tested compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213220
JournalBiomaterials Advances
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • 3D bioprinting
  • Gelatin methacryloyl
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • Tumor-associated macrophages
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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