Tissue decellularization is a process that involves removing the cellular parts of a tissue or organ, leaving only the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM provides structural support and biochemical signals that can affect cell growth and tissue function. To achieve decellularization, the tissue is treated with physical, chemical, and enzymatic methods that remove cells while keeping the ECM intact. This ECM can then be used as a biomaterial scaffold for reconstructing tissue.
ECM scaffolds can be used to create sheets and hydrogels for tissue repair. The ECM serves as a three-dimensional template that supports the attachment, growth, and differentiation of cells, enabling the regeneration of functional tissues. For example, ECM hydrogels can be seeded with patient-specific cells and injected into damaged tissues, such as skin or heart tissue. Hydrogels derived from ECM can provide a supportive environment for cell growth and can be used as a seeding material for in vitro testing.
However, there are still challenges in the manufacturing and decellularization protocols currently available. One key aspect is ensuring the maximal removal of cellular components while retaining the essential ECM components. Achieving an optimal balance between decellularization efficacy and preservation of ECM structure and bioactivity is crucial. Additionally, standardization of decellularization protocols is necessary to ensure consistent and reproducible results across different tissue types.
Figure from Biehl A, Gracioso-Martins AM, Davis ZG, Sze D, Collins L, Mora-Navarro C, Fisher MB, and Freytes DO. Towards a Standardized Multi-Tissue Decellularization Protocol for the Derivation of Extracellular Matrix Materials. Biomater Sci. 2023 Jan 17;11(2):641-654. doi: 10.1039/d2bm01012g.
- Biehl A, Colmon R, Timofeeva A, Gracioso-Martins, AM, Dion, GR, Peters K, and Freytes DO. Scalable and High-Throughput In Vitro Vibratory Platform for Vocal Fold Tissue Engineering Applications. Accepted to Bioengineering May 2023.
- Biehl A, Gracioso-Martins AM, Davis ZG, Sze D, Collins L, Mora-Navarro C, Fisher MB, and Freytes DO. Towards a Standardized Multi-Tissue Decellularization Protocol for the Derivation of Extracellular Matrix Materials. Biomater Sci. 2023 Jan 17;11(2):641-654. doi: 10.1039/d2bm01012g.
- Badileanu A, Mora-Navarro C, Gracioso Martins AM, Garcia ME, Sze D, Ozpinar EW, Gaffney L, Enders JR, Branski RC, Freytes DO. Fast Automated Approach for the Derivation of Acellular Extracellular Matrix Scaffolds from Porcine Soft Tissues. ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2020;6(7):4200-13. Epub 2021/01/20. doi: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.0c00265. PubMed PMID: 33463339; PMCID: PMC8133378.