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26.04.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 11/2016

Heart and Vessels 11/2016

Decellularized aortic conduits: could their cryopreservation affect post-implantation outcomes? A morpho-functional study on porcine homografts

Heart and Vessels > Ausgabe 11/2016
Michele Gallo, Antonella Bonetti, Helen Poser, Filippo Naso, Tomaso Bottio, Roberto Bianco, Adolfo Paolin, Paolo Franci, Roberto Busetto, Anna Chiara Frigo, Edward Buratto, Michele Spina, Maurizio Marchini, Fulvia Ortolani, Laura Iop, Gino Gerosa
Wichtige Hinweise
M. Gallo and A. Bonetti contributed equally to this work.
F. Ortolani, L. Iop and G. Gerosa are equally responsible for the concept and design of the study.


Decellularized porcine aortic valve conduits (AVCs) implanted in a Vietnamese Pig (VP) experimental animal model were matched against decellularized and then cryopreserved AVCs to assess the effect of cryopreservation on graft hemodynamic performance and propensity to in vivo repopulation by host’s cells. VPs (n = 12) underwent right ventricular outflow tract substitution using AVC allografts and were studied for 15-month follow-up. VPs were randomized into two groups, receiving AVCs treated with decellularization alone (D; n = 6) or decellularization/cryopreservation (DC; n = 6), respectively. Serial echocardiography was carried out to follow up hemodynamic function. All explanted AVCs were processed for light and electron microscopy. No signs of dilatation, progressive stenosis, regurgitation, and macroscopic calcification were echocardiographically observed in both D and DC groups. Explanted D grafts exhibited near-normal features, whereas the presence of calcification, inflammatory infiltrates, and disarray of elastic lamellae occurred in some DC grafts. In the unaltered regions of AVCs from both groups, almost complete re-endothelialization was observed for both valve cusps and aorta walls. In addition, side-by-side repopulation by recipient’s fibroblasts, myofibroblasts, and smooth muscle cells was paralleled by ongoing tissue remodeling, as revealed by the ultrastructural identification of typical canals of collagen fibrillogenesis and elastogenesis-related features. Incipient neo-vascularization and re-innervation of medial and adventitial tunicae of grafted aortic walls were also detected for both D and DC groups. Cryopreservation did not affect post-implantation AVC hemodynamic behavior and was topically propensive to cell repopulation and tissue renewal, although graft deterioration including calcification was present in several areas. Thus, these preliminary data provide essential information on feasibility of decellularization and cryopreservation coupling in the perspective of treatment optimization and subsequent clinical trials using similarly treated human allografts as innovative heart valve substitutes.

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