Glutaraldehyde fixed xenogeneic heart valve prosthesis are hindered by calcification and lack of growth potential. The aim of tissue decellularization is to remove tissue antigenicity, avoiding the use of glutaraldehyde and improve valve integration with low inflammation and host cell recolonization. In this preliminary study, we investigated the efficacy of a NaOH-based process for decellularization and biocompatibility improvement of porcine pulmonary heart valves in comparison to a detergent-based process (SDS-SDC0, 5%).
Native cryopreserved porcine pulmonary heart valves were treated with detergent and NaOH-based processes.
Decellularization was assessed by Hematoxylin and eosin/DAPI/alpha-gal/SLA-I staining and DNA quantification of native and processed leaflets, walls and muscles.
Elongation stress test investigated mechanical integrity of leaflets and walls (n = 3 tests/valve component) of valves in the native and treated groups (n = 4/group).
Biochemical integrity (collagen/elastin/glycosaminoglycans content) of leaflet-wall and muscle of the valves (n = 4/group) was assessed and compared between groups with trichrome staining (Sirius Red/Miller/Alcian blue).
Secondly, a preliminary in vivo study assessed biocompatibility (CD3 and CD68 immunostaining) and remodeling (Hematoxylin and eosin/CD31 and ASMA immunofluorescent staining) of NaOH processed valves implanted in orthotopic position in young Landrace pigs, at 1 (n = 1) and 3 months (n = 2).
Decellularization was better achieved with the NaOH-based process (92% vs 69% DNA reduction in the wall). Both treatments did not significantly alter mechanical properties. The detergent-based process induced a significant loss of glycosaminoglycans (p < 0,05).
In vivo, explanted valves exhibited normal morphology without any sign of graft dilatation, degeneration or rejection. Low inflammation was noticed at one and three months follow-up (1,8 +/− 3,03 and 0,9836 +/− 1,3605 CD3 cells/0,12 mm2 in the leaflets). In one animal, at three months we documented minimal calcification in the area of sinus leaflet and in one, microthrombi formation on the leaflet surface at 1 month. The endoluminal side of the valves showed partial reendothelialization.
NaOH-based process offers better porcine pulmonary valve decellularization than the detergent process. In vivo, the NaOH processed valves showed low inflammatory response at 3 months and partial recellularization. Regarding additional property of securing, this treatment should be considered for the new generation of heart valves prosthesis.
Graphical abstract of the study