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Regeneration of a neoartery through a completely autologous acellular conduit in a minipig model: a pilot study



Vascular grafts are widely used as a treatment in coronary artery bypass surgery, hemodialysis, peripheral arterial bypass and congenital heart disease. Various types of synthetic and natural materials were experimented to produce tissue engineering vascular grafts. In this study, we investigated in vivo tissue engineering technology in miniature pigs to prepare decellularized autologous extracellular matrix-based grafts that could be used as vascular grafts for small-diameter vascular bypass surgery.


Autologous tissue conduits (3.9 mm in diameter) were fabricated by embedding Teflon tubings in the subcutaneous pocket of female miniature pigs (n = 8, body weight 25-30 kg) for 4 weeks. They were then decellularized by CHAPS decellularization solution. Heparin was covalently-linked to decellularized tissue conduits by Sulfo-NHS/EDC. We implanted these decellularized, completely autologous extracellular matrix-based grafts into the carotid arteries of miniature pigs, then sacrificed the pigs at 1 or 2 months after implantation and evaluated the patency rate and explants histologically.


After 1 month, the patency rate was 100% (5/5) while the inner diameter of the grafts was 3.43 ± 0.05 mm (n = 5). After 2 months, the patency rate was 67% (2/3) while the inner diameter of the grafts was 2.32 ± 0.14 mm (n = 3). Histological staining confirmed successful cell infiltration, and collagen and elastin deposition in 2-month samples. A monolayer of endothelial cells was observed along the inner lumen while smooth muscle cells were dominant in the graft wall.


A completely autologous acellular conduit with excellent performance in mechanical properties can be remodeled into a neoartery in a minipig model. This proof-of-concept study in the large animal model is very encouraging and indicates that this is a highly feasible idea worthy of further study in non-human primates before clinical translation.

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