The influence of heart valve leaflet matrix characteristics on the interaction between human mesenchymal stem cells and decellularized scaffolds.
Extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds isolated from valvulated conduits can be useful in developing durable bioprostheses by tissue engineering provided that anatomical shape, architecture, and mechanical properties are preserved. As evidenced by SEM, intact scaffolds were derived from porcine aortic valves by the combined use of Triton X-100 and cholate (TRI-COL) or N-cetylpyridinium (CPC) and subsequent nucleic acid removal by nuclease. Both treatments were effective in removing most cells and all the cytomembranes, with preservation of (1) endothelium basal membranes, (2) ECM texture, including the D-periodical interaction of small proteoglycans with normally D-banded collagen fibrils, and (3) mechanical properties of the treated valves. Ultrastructural features agreed with DNA, hexosamine, and uronic acid biochemical estimations. Calcification potential, assessed by a 6-week rat subdermal model, was significantly reduced by TRI-COL/nuclease treatment. This was not true for CPC only, despite better proteoglycan preservation, suggesting that nucleic acids also are involved in calcification onset. Human fibroblasts, used to repopulate TRI-COL samples, formed mono- or multilayers on surfaces, and groups of cells also were scattered within the valve leaflet framework. A biocompatible scaffolds of this kind holds promise for production of durable valve bioprostheses that will be able to undergo probable turnover and/or remodeling by repopulating recipient cells.