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Cell Tissue Bank. 2013 Mar;14(1):53-63. doi: 10.1007/s10561-012-9299-z. Epub 2012 Mar 2.

The effect of different treatment modalities on the calcification potential and cross-linking stability of bovine pericardium.

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  • 1Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 9301, South Africa.


Porcine heart valves and bovine pericardium exhibit suitable properties for use as substitutes in cardiothoracic surgery, but must meet several requirements to be safe and efficient. Treatment with glutaraldehyde (GA) render some of these requirements, but calcification and degradation post-implant remain a problem. This study aimed to identify additional biochemical treatments that will minimize calcification potential without compromising the physical properties of pericardium. Pericardium treated with GA calcified severely after 8 weeks in the subcutaneous rat model, compared to tissue treated with higher concentrations of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) and commercial Glycar patches. GA, lower concentrations GAG and Glycar pericardium had high denaturation temperatures due to enhanced cross-linking. Tensile strength of GA tissue was significantly lower than GAG-treated or Glycar tissues, due to lower water content with resultant lower flexibility and suppleness. Pericardium treated with 0.01 M GAG gave acceptable denaturation temperatures, tensile strength and reduced calcification potential. All tissue treatments evoked comparable host immune responses, and no significant difference in resistance to enzymatic degradation. Ineffective stabilization and fixation of cross-links following GAG treatment, as well as limited penetration into the pericardium, resulted in GAG leaching out into the surrounding host tissue or storage medium, and prohibits safe clinical use of such tissue.

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