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Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2016 Aug;36(4):705-15. doi: 10.3109/07388551.2015.1007495. Epub 2015 Mar 5.

Hearts beating through decellularized scaffolds: whole-organ engineering for cardiac regeneration and transplantation.

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a Department of Cardiothoracic Transplantation & Vascular Surgery , Hannover Medical School , Hannover , Germany .
b Bioengineering Research Group, Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Department , Materials & Energy Research Center (MERC) , Tehran , Iran .
c Research Department of Nanotechnology, UCL Division of Surgery & Interventional Science , Centre for Nanotechnology & Regenerative Medicine, University College London (UCL) , London , UK .
d UCL Medical School, University College London (UCL) , London , UK .
e Department of Engineering Science , Oxford Centre for Tissue Engineering & Bioprocessing, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Oxford , Oxford , UK , and.
f Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust Hospital , London , UK.


Whole-organ decellularization and tissue engineering approaches have made significant inroads during recent years. If proven to be successful and clinically viable, it is highly likely that this field would be poised to revolutionize organ transplantation surgery. In particular, whole-heart decellularization has captured the attention and imagination of the scientific community. This technique allows for the generation of a complex three-dimensional (3D) extracellular matrix scaffold, with the preservation of the intrinsic 3D basket-weave macroarchitecture of the heart itself. The decellularized scaffold can then be recellularized by seeding it with cells and incubating it in perfusion bioreactors in order to create functional organ constructs for transplantation. Indeed, research into this strategy of whole-heart tissue engineering has consequently emerged from the pages of science fiction into a proof-of-concept laboratory undertaking. This review presents current trends and advances, and critically appraises the concepts involved in various approaches to whole-heart decellularization and tissue engineering.


Cardiac decellularization; cardiac regeneration; cardiac tissue engineering; whole-heart decellularization; whole-organ decellularization; whole-organ tissue engineering

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