Microcrystalline cellulose

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Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) is a term for refined wood pulp and is used as a texturizer, an anti-caking agent, a fat substitute, an emulsifier, an extender, and a bulking agent in food production. [1] The most common form is used in vitamin supplements or tablets. It is also used in plaque assays for counting viruses, as an alternative to carboxymethylcellulose. [2]

A fat substitute is a food product with the same functions, stability, physical, and chemical characteristics as regular fat, with fewer Calories per gram than fat. They are utilized in the production of low fat and low calorie foods.



A naturally occurring polymer, it is composed of glucose units connected by a 1-4 beta glycosidic bond. These linear cellulose chains are bundled together as microfibril spiralled together in the walls of plant cell.

Polymer substance composed of macromolecules with repeating structural units

A polymer is a large molecule, or macromolecule, composed of many repeated subunits. Due to their broad range of properties, both synthetic and natural polymers play essential and ubiquitous roles in everyday life. Polymers range from familiar synthetic plastics such as polystyrene to natural biopolymers such as DNA and proteins that are fundamental to biological structure and function. Polymers, both natural and synthetic, are created via polymerization of many small molecules, known as monomers. Their consequently large molecular mass relative to small molecule compounds produces unique physical properties, including toughness, viscoelasticity, and a tendency to form glasses and semicrystalline structures rather than crystals. The terms polymer and resin are often synonymous with plastic.

Glucose A simple form of sugar

Glucose (also called dextrose) is a simple sugar with the molecular formula C6H12O6. Glucose is the most abundant monosaccharide, a subcategory of carbohydrates. Glucose is mainly made by plants and most algae during photosynthesis from water and carbon dioxide, using energy from sunlight. There it is used to make cellulose in cell walls, which is the most abundant carbohydrate. In energy metabolism, glucose is the most important source of energy in all organisms. Glucose for metabolism is partially stored as a polymer, in plants mainly as starch and amylopectin and in animals as glycogen. Glucose circulates in the blood of animals as blood sugar. The naturally occurring form of glucose is D-glucose, while L-glucose is produced synthetically in comparably small amounts and is of lesser importance.

A microfibril is a very fine fibril, or fiber-like strand, consisting of glycoproteins and cellulose. It is usually, but not always, used as a general term in describing the structure of protein fiber, e.g. hair and sperm tail. Its most frequently observed structural pattern is the 9+2 pattern in which two central protofibrils are surrounded by nine other pairs. Cellulose inside plants is one of the examples of non-protein compounds that are using this term with the same purpose. Cellulose microfibrils are laid down in the inner surface of the primary cell wall. As the cell absorbs water, its volume increases and the existing microfibrils separate and new ones are formed to help increase cell strength.

Each microfibril exhibits a high degree of three-dimensional internal bonding resulting in a crystalline structure that is insoluble in water and resistant to reagents. There are, however, relatively weak segments of the microfibril with weaker internal bonding. These are called amorphous regions; some argue that they are more accurately called dislocations, because of the single-phase structure of microfibrils. The crystalline region is isolated to produce microcrystalline cellulose.


Approved within the European Union as a thickener, stabilizer or emulsifiers microcrystalline cellulose was granted the E number E460(i) with basic cellulose given the number E460. [3]

E number codes for substances that used as food additives

E numbers are codes for substances that are permitted to be used as food additives for use within the European Union and EFTA. The "E" stands for "Europe". Commonly found on food labels, their safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority.

MCC has use in cosmetics as an abrasive, absorbent, anti-caking agent, aqueous viscosity increasing agent, binder, bulking agent, emulsion stabilizer, slip modifier, and texturizer, [4] [5] which can be found in various hair and skin care products as well as makeup.

Cosmetics substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body

Cosmetics are substances or products used to enhance or alter the appearance of the face or fragrance and texture of the body. Many cosmetics are designed for use of applying to the face, hair, and body. They are generally mixtures of chemical compounds; some being derived from natural sources, and some being synthetics or artificial. Cosmetics applied to the face to enhance its appearance are often called make-up or makeup. Common make-up items include: lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, foundation. Whereas other common cosmetics can include skin cleansers and body lotions, shampoo and conditioner, hairstyling products, perfume and cologne.

An abrasive is a material, often a mineral, that is used to shape or finish a workpiece through rubbing which leads to part of the workpiece being worn away by friction. While finishing a material often means polishing it to gain a smooth, reflective surface, the process can also involve roughening as in satin, matte or beaded finishes. In short, the ceramics which are used to cut, grind and polish other softer materials are known as abrasives.

Absorption (chemistry) chemical process

In chemistry, absorption is a physical or chemical phenomenon or a process in which atoms, molecules or ions enter some bulk phase – liquid or solid material. This is a different process from adsorption, since molecules undergoing absorption are taken up by the volume, not by the surface. A more general term is sorption, which covers absorption, adsorption, and ion exchange. Absorption is a condition in which something takes in another substance.

The MCC is a valuable additive in pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic and other industries. Different properties of MCC are measured to qualify its suitability to such utilization, namely particle size, density, compressibility index, angle of repose, powder porosity, hydration swelling capacity, moisture sorption capacity, moisture content, crystallinity index, crystallite size, and mechanical properties such as hardness and tensile strength.


MCC is pure partially depolymerized cellulose synthesized from α-cellulose precursor. [6] The MCC can be synthesized by different processes such as reactive extrusion, enzyme mediated, steam explosion and acid hydrolysis. The later process can be done using mineral acids such as H2SO4, HCl and HBr as well as ionic liquids. The role of these reagents is to destroy the amorphous regions leaving the crystalline domains.

The degree of polymerization is typically less than 400. The MCC particles with size lower than 5 µm must not be more than 10%.

Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential thermal analysis (DTA) or differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) are also important to predict the thermal behavior of the MCC upon heat stresses.

Allergic reactions

At least one case of an allergic reaction to microcrystalline cellulose has been documented. [7]

Related Research Articles

Cellulose Chemical compound, structural constituent of the cell walls of green plants

Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula (C
, a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to many thousands of β(1→4) linked D-glucose units. Cellulose is an important structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, many forms of algae and the oomycetes. Some species of bacteria secrete it to form biofilms. Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. The cellulose content of cotton fiber is 90%, that of wood is 40–50%, and that of dried hemp is approximately 57%.

An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible. Emulsions are part of a more general class of two-phase systems of matter called colloids. Although the terms colloid and emulsion are sometimes used interchangeably, emulsion should be used when both phases, dispersed and continuous, are liquids. In an emulsion, one liquid is dispersed in the other. Examples of emulsions include vinaigrettes, homogenized milk, and some cutting fluids for metal working.

Guar gum guar gum

Guar gum, also called guaran, is a galactomannan polysaccharide extracted from guar beans that has thickening and stabilizing properties useful in the food, feed and industrial applications. The guar seeds are mechanically dehusked, hydrated, milled and screened according to application. It is typically produced as a free-flowing, off-white powder. In Hindi language is written as "ग्वार गम ".

Polyethylene terephthalate Polymer

Polyethylene terephthalate, commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is the most common thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in fibres for clothing, containers for liquids and foods, thermoforming for manufacturing, and in combination with glass fibre for engineering resins.

An excipient is a substance formulated alongside the active ingredient of a medication, included for the purpose of long-term stabilization, bulking up solid formulations that contain potent active ingredients in small amounts, or to confer a therapeutic enhancement on the active ingredient in the final dosage form, such as facilitating drug absorption, reducing viscosity, or enhancing solubility. Excipients can also be useful in the manufacturing process, to aid in the handling of the active substance concerned such as by facilitating powder flowability or non-stick properties, in addition to aiding in vitro stability such as prevention of denaturation or aggregation over the expected shelf life. The selection of appropriate excipients also depends upon the route of administration and the dosage form, as well as the active ingredient and other factors. A comprehensive classification system based on structure-property-application relationships has been proposed for excipients used in parenteral medications.

Sugar candy candy whose primary ingredient is sugar

Sugar candy is any candy whose primary ingredient is sugar. It is produced from concentrated sugar solution. The main types of sugar candies are hard candies, fondants, caramels, jellies, and nougats.

Thickening agent substance used to increase viscosity of a liquid

A thickening agent or thickener is a substance which can increase the viscosity of a liquid without substantially changing its other properties. Edible thickeners are commonly used to thicken sauces, soups, and puddings without altering their taste; thickeners are also used in paints, inks, explosives, and cosmetics.

Carboxymethyl cellulose chemical compound

Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) or cellulose gum or tylose powder is a cellulose derivative with carboxymethyl groups (-CH2-COOH) bound to some of the hydroxyl groups of the glucopyranose monomers that make up the cellulose backbone. It is often used as its sodium salt, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose.

Natural fiber any fiber derived from natural sources such as plants, animals or minerals

Natural fibers or naturalfibres are fibres that are produced by plants, animals, and geological processes. They can be used as a component of composite materials, where the orientation of fibers impacts the properties. Natural fibers can also be matted into sheets to make products such as paper, felt or fabric.

Hot-melt adhesive solvent-free and at room temperature more or less solid products which are applied to the adhesive surface when hot

Hot melt adhesive (HMA), also known as hot glue, is a form of thermoplastic adhesive that is commonly sold as solid cylindrical sticks of various diameters designed to be applied using a hot glue gun. The gun uses a continuous-duty heating element to melt the plastic glue, which the user pushes through the gun either with a mechanical trigger mechanism on the gun, or with direct finger pressure. The glue squeezed out of the heated nozzle is initially hot enough to burn and even blister skin. The glue is tacky when hot, and solidifies in a few seconds to one minute. Hot melt adhesives can also be applied by dipping or spraying, and are popular with hobbyists and crafters both for affixing and as an inexpensive alternative to resin casting.

Hypromellose chemical compound

Hypromellose (INN), short for hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), is a semisynthetic, inert, viscoelastic polymer used as eye drops, as well as an excipient and controlled-delivery component in oral medicaments, found in a variety of commercial products.

Modified starch, also called starch derivatives, are prepared by physically, enzymatically, or chemically treating native starch to change its properties. Modified starches are used in practically all starch applications, such as in food products as a thickening agent, stabilizer or emulsifier; in pharmaceuticals as a disintegrant; or as binder in coated paper. They are also used in many other applications.

Cellulose synthase (UDP-forming)

In enzymology, a cellulose synthase is an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction

The glass–liquid transition, or glass transition, is the gradual and reversible transition in amorphous materials, from a hard and relatively brittle "glassy" state into a viscous or rubbery state as the temperature is increased. An amorphous solid that exhibits a glass transition is called a glass. The reverse transition, achieved by supercooling a viscous liquid into the glass state, is called vitrification.

Cellulose fibers are fibers made with ethers or esters of cellulose, which can be obtained from the bark, wood or leaves of plants, or from other plant-based material. In addition to cellulose, the fibers may also contain hemicellulose and lignin, with different percentages of these components altering the mechanical properties of the fibers.

Dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) is a gravimetric technique that measures how quickly and how much of a solvent is absorbed by a sample: such as a dry powder absorbing water. It does this by varying the vapor concentration surrounding the sample and measuring the change in mass which this produces. Water vapor is most commonly used, but it is also possible to use a wide range of organic solvents.

Nanocellulose material composed of nanosized cellulose fibrils

Nanocellulose is a term referring to nano-structured cellulose. This may be either cellulose nanocrystal, cellulose nanofibers (CNF) also called microfibrillated cellulose (MFC), or bacterial nanocellulose, which refers to nano-structured cellulose produced by bacteria.

Bacterial cellulose

Bacterial cellulose is an organic compound with the formula (C
produced by certain types of bacteria. While cellulose is a basic structural material of most plants, it is also produced by bacteria, principally of the genera Acetobacter, Sarcina ventriculi and Agrobacterium. Bacterial, or microbial, cellulose has different properties from plant cellulose and is characterized by high purity, strength, moldability and increased water holding ability. In natural habitats, the majority of bacteria synthesize extracellular polysaccharides, such as cellulose, which form protective envelopes around the cells. While bacterial cellulose is produced in nature, many methods are currently being investigated to enhance cellulose growth from cultures in laboratories as a large-scale process. By controlling synthesis methods, the resulting microbial cellulose can be tailored to have specific desirable properties. For example, attention has been given to the bacteria Acetobacter xylinum due to its cellulose's unique mechanical properties and applications to biotechnology, microbiology, and materials science. Historically, bacterial cellulose has been limited to the manufacture of Nata de coco, a South-East Asian food product. With advances in the ability to synthesize and characterize bacterial cellulose, the material is being used for a wide variety of commercial applications including textiles, cosmetics, and food products, as well as medical applications. Many patents have been issued in microbial cellulose applications and several active areas of research are attempting to better characterize microbial cellulose and utilize it in new areas.


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  7. "Letter from Allergy Clinic of Tulsa" . Retrieved 2012-02-03.