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Biochemistry Research International
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 979351, 10 pages
Research Article

Fine Structure of Glycosaminoglycans from Fresh and Decellularized Porcine Cardiac Valves and Pericardium

1Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiologiche, Biochimiche e Cellulari, Università di Sassari, Viale Muroni 25, 07100 Sassari, Italy
2Dipartimento di Scienze Cardiologiche, Toraciche e Vascolari, Università di Padova, Viale Giustiniani 2, 35128 Padova, Italy
3Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche Sperimentali, Università di Padova, Viale G. Colombo 3, 35131 Padova, Italy

Received 30 June 2011; Revised 18 October 2011; Accepted 27 October 2011

Academic Editor: Laura Alaniz

Copyright © 2012 Antonio Cigliano 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.


Cardiac valves are dynamic structures, exhibiting a highly specialized architecture consisting of cells and extracellular matrix with a relevant proteoglycan and glycosaminoglycan content, collagen and elastic fibers. Biological valve substitutes are obtained from xenogenic cardiac and pericardial tissues. To overcome the limits of such non viable substitutes, tissue engineering approaches emerged to create cell repopulated decellularized scaffolds. This study was performed to determine the glycosaminoglycans content, distribution, and disaccharides composition in porcine aortic and pulmonary valves and in pericardium before and after a detergent-based decellularization procedure. The fine structural characteristics of galactosaminoglycans chondroitin sulfate and dermatan sulfate were examined by FACE. Furthermore, the mechanical properties of decellularized pericardium and its propensity to be repopulated by in vitro seeded fibroblasts were investigated. Results show that galactosaminoglycans and hyaluronan are differently distributed between pericardium and valves and within heart valves themselves before and after decellularization. The distribution of glycosaminoglycans is also dependent from the vascular district and topographic localization. The decellularization protocol adopted resulted in a relevant but not selective depletion of galactosaminoglycans. As a whole, data suggest that both decellularized porcine heart valves and bovine pericardium represent promising materials bearing the potential for future development of tissue engineered heart valve scaffolds.