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Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2016 Jul;22(7):671-8. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2015.0571. Epub 2016 Jun 13.

Nondestructive Methods for Monitoring Cell Removal During Rat Liver Decellularization.

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Center for Engineering in Medicine, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, The Shriners Hospitals for Children , Boston, Massachusetts.


Whole liver engineering holds the promise to create transplantable liver grafts that may serve as substitutes for donor organs, addressing the donor shortage in liver transplantation. While decellularization and recellularization of livers in animal models have been successfully achieved, scale up to human livers has been slow. There are a number of donor human livers that are discarded because they are not found suitable for transplantation, but are available for engineering liver grafts. These livers are rejected due to a variety of reasons, which in turn may affect the decellularization outcome. Hence, a one-size-fit-for all decellularization protocol may not result in scaffolds with consistent matrix quality, subsequently influencing downstream recellularization and transplantation outcomes. There is a need for a noninvasive monitoring method to evaluate the extent of cell removal, while ensuring preservation of matrix components during decellularization. In this study, we decellularized rat livers using a protocol previously established by our group, and we monitored decellularization through traditional destructive techniques, including evaluation of DNA, collagen, and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content in decellularized scaffolds, as well as histology. In addition, we used computed tomography and perfusate analysis as alternative nondestructive decellularization monitoring methods. We found that DNA removal correlates well with the Hounsfield unit of the liver, and perfusate analysis revealed that significant amount of GAG is removed during perfusion with 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate. This allowed for optimization of our decellularization protocol leading to scaffolds that have significantly higher GAG content, while maintaining appropriate removal of cellular contents. The significance of this is the creation of a nondestructive monitoring strategy that can be used for optimization of decellularization protocols for individual human livers available for liver engineering.

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