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Preservation strategies for decellularized pericardial scaffolds for off-the-shelf availability

journal contribution
posted on 01.03.2019 by Sabra Zouhair, Paola Aguiari, Laura Iop, Andres Vasquez-Rivera, Andrea Filippi, Filippo Romanato, Sotiris Korossis, Willem F. Wolkers, Gino Gerosa
© 2018 Decellularized biological scaffolds hold great promise in cardiovascular surgery. In order to ensure off-the-shelf availability, routine use of decellularized scaffolds requires tissue banking. In this study, the suitability of cryopreservation, vitrification and freeze-drying for the preservation of decellularized bovine pericardial (DBP) scaffolds was evaluated. Cryopreservation was conducted using 10% DMSO and slow-rate freezing. Vitrification was performed using vitrification solution (VS83) and rapid cooling. Freeze-drying was done using a programmable freeze-dryer and sucrose as lyoprotectant. The impact of the preservation methods on the DBP extracellular matrix structure, integrity and composition was assessed using histology, biomechanical testing, spectroscopic and thermal analysis, and biochemistry. In addition, the cytocompatibility of the preserved scaffolds was also assessed. All preservation methods were found to be suitable to preserve the extracellular matrix structure and its components, with no apparent signs of collagen deterioration or denaturation, or loss of elastin and glycosaminoglycans. Biomechanical testing, however, showed that the cryopreserved DBP displayed a loss of extensibility compared to vitrified or freeze-dried scaffolds, which both displayed similar biomechanical behavior compared to non-preserved control scaffolds. In conclusion, cryopreservation altered the biomechanical behavior of the DBP scaffolds, which might lead to graft dysfunction in vivo. In contrast to cryopreservation and vitrification, freeze-drying is performed with non-toxic protective agents and does not require storage at ultra-low temperatures, thus allowing for a cost-effective and easy storage and transport. Due to these advantages, freeze-drying is a preferable method for the preservation of decellularized pericardium. Statement of Significance: Clinical use of DBP scaffolds for surgical reconstructions or substitutions requires development of a preservation technology that does not alter scaffold properties during long-term storage. Conclusive investigation on adverse impacts of the preservation methods on DBP matrix integrity is still missing. This work is aiming to close this gap by studying three potential preservation technologies, cryopreservation, vitrification and freeze-drying, in order to achieve the off-the-shelf availability of DBP patches for clinical application. Furthermore, it provides novel insights for dry-preservation of decellularized xenogeneic scaffolds that can be used in the routine clinical cardiovascular practice, allowing the surgeon the opportunity to choose an ideal implant matching with the needs of each patient.


This research was funded by the People Programme (MarieCurie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ITN-TECAS under REA grant agreement n 317512 and by the German Research Foundation (DFG: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) via the Cluster of Excellence ‘From regenerative biology to reconstructive therapy’ (REBIRTH).



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Published in

Acta Biomaterialia


ZOUHAIR, S. ... et al., 2019. Preservation strategies for decellularized pericardial scaffolds for off-the-shelf availability. Acta Biomaterialia, 84, pp. 208-221.


© Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Acta Materialia Inc


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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