Biomechanical properties of decellularized porcine common carotid arteries
To analyze the effects of decellularization on the biomechanical properties of porcine common carotid arteries, decellularization was performed by a detergent-enzymatic procedure that preserves extracellular matrix scaffold. Internal diameter, external diameter, and wall thickness were measured by optical microscopy on neighboring histological sections before and after decellularization. Rupture tests were conducted. Inner diameter and wall thickness were measured by echo tracking during pressure inflation from 10 to 145 mmHg. Distensibility and incremental elastic modulus were computed. At 10 mmHg, mean diameter of decellularized arteries was 5.38 mm, substantially higher than controls (4.1 mm), whereas decellularized and control arteries reached the same internal diameter (6.7 mm) at 145 mmHg. Wall thickness decreased 16% for decellularized and 32% for normal arteries after pressure was increased from 10 to 145 mmHg. Decellularized arteries withstood pressure >2,200 mmHg before rupture. At 145 mmHg, decellularization reduced compliance by 66% and increased incremental elastic modulus by 54%. Removal of cellular elements from media led to changes in arterial dimensions. Collagen fibers engaged more rapidly during inflation, yielding a stiffer vessel. Distensibility was therefore significantly lower (by a factor of 3) in decellularized than in normal vessels: reduced in the physiological range of pressures. In conclusion, decellularization yields vessels that can withstand high inflation pressures with, however, markedly different geometrical and biomechanical properties. This may mean that the potential use of a decellularized artery as a scaffold for the creation of xenografts may be compromised because of geometrical and compliance mismatch.