Liver transplantation is the only effective treatment for end-stage liver disease, but absolute donor shortage remains a limiting factor. Recent advances in tissue engineering focus on generation of native extracellular matrix (ECM) by decellularized complete livers in animal models. Although proof of concept has been reported for human livers, this study aims to perform whole liver decellularization in a clinically relevant series using controlled machine perfusion. In this study, we describe a mild nondestructive decellularization protocol, effective in 11 discarded human whole liver grafts to generate constructs that reliably maintain hepatic architecture and ECM components using machine perfusion, while completely removing cellular DNA and RNA. The decellularization process preserved the ultrastructural ECM components confirmed by histology, electron microscopy, and proteomic analysis. Anatomical characteristics of the native microvascular network and biliary drainage of the liver were confirmed by contrast computed tomography scanning. Decellularized vascular matrix remained suitable for normal suturing and no major histocompatibility complex molecules were detected, suggesting absence of allo-reactivity when used for transplantation. After extensive washing, decellularized scaffolds were nontoxic for cells after reseeding human mesenchymal stromal or umbilical vein endothelial endothelium cells. Indeed, evidence of effective recellularization of the vascular lining was obtained. In conclusion, we established an effective method to generate clinically applicable liver scaffolds from human discarded whole liver grafts and show proof of concept that reseeding of normal human cells in the scaffold is feasible. This supports new opportunities for bioengineering of transplantable grafts in the future.

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Stem Cells and Development
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Verstegen, M., Willemse, J. (Jorke), Van Den Hoek, S. (Sjoerd), Kremers, G.-J., Luider, T., van Huizen, N., … de Jonge, J. (2017). Decellularization of Whole Human Liver Grafts Using Controlled Perfusion for Transplantable Organ Bioscaffolds. Stem Cells and Development, 26(18), 1304–1315. doi:10.1089/scd.2017.0095