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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 918753, 8 pages
Research Article

Detergent-Enzymatic Decellularization of Swine Blood Vessels: Insight on Mechanical Properties for Vascular Tissue Engineering

1Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta”, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
2PhD program in Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
3Complication of Diabetes Unit, Division of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Sciences, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy
4General Surgery I, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy

Received 8 January 2013; Revised 29 April 2013; Accepted 23 May 2013

Academic Editor: George E. Plopper

Copyright © 2013 Alessandro F. Pellegata et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Small caliber vessels substitutes still remain an unmet clinical need; few autologous substitutes are available, while synthetic grafts show insufficient patency in the long term. Decellularization is the complete removal of all cellular and nuclear matters from a tissue while leaving a preserved extracellular matrix representing a promising tool for the generation of acellular scaffolds for tissue engineering, already used for various tissues with positive outcomes. The aim of this work is to investigate the effect of a detergent-enzymatic decellularization protocol on swine arteries in terms of cell removal, extracellular matrix preservation, and mechanical properties. Furthermore, the effect of storage at −80°C on the mechanical properties of the tissue is evaluated. Swine arteries were harvested, frozen, and decellularized; histological analysis revealed complete cell removal and preserved extracellular matrix. Furthermore, the residual DNA content in decellularized tissues was far low compared to native one. Mechanical testings were performed on native, defrozen, and decellularized tissues; no statistically significant differences were reported for Young’s modulus, ultimate stress, compliance, burst pressure, and suture retention strength, while ultimate strain and stress relaxation of decellularized vessels were significantly different from the native ones. Considering the overall results, the process was confirmed to be suitable for the generation of acellular scaffolds for vascular tissue engineering.