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Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2011 Aug 15;13:27-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-071910-124743.

Whole-organ tissue engineering: decellularization and recellularization of three-dimensional matrix scaffolds.

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Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


The definitive treatment for end-stage organ failure is orthotopic transplantation. However, the demand for transplantation far exceeds the number of available donor organs. A promising tissue-engineering/regenerative-medicine approach for functional organ replacement has emerged in recent years. Decellularization of donor organs such as heart, liver, and lung can provide an acellular, naturally occurring three-dimensional biologic scaffold material that can then be seeded with selected cell populations. Preliminary studies in animal models have provided encouraging results for the proof of concept. However, significant challenges for three-dimensional organ engineering approach remain. This manuscript describes the fundamental concepts of whole-organ engineering, including characterization of the extracellular matrix as a scaffold, methods for decellularization of vascular organs, potential cells to reseed such a scaffold, techniques for the recellularization process and important aspects regarding bioreactor design to support this approach. Critical challenges and future directions are also discussed.

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