Microcrystalline cellulose

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Microcrystalline cellulose 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]

In many ways[which?], cellulose makes the ideal excipient. 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. 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(ii) with basic cellulose given the number E460 (i) [3]


  1. ^ http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5066975
  2. ^ Matrosovich, Mikhail; Tatyana Matrosovich, Wolfgang Garten, and Hans-Dieter Klenk (2006). "New low-viscosity overlay medium for viral plaque assays". Virology Journal (BioMed Central) 3: 63. doi:10.1186/1743-422X-3-63. PMC 1564390. PMID 16945126. 
  3. ^ http://microcrystallinecellulose.co.uk