Supercritical carbon dioxide decellularised pericardium: Mechanical and structural characterisation for applications in cardio-thoracic surgery

Frank Ruben Halfwerk (Corresponding Author), Jeroen Rouwkema, J. Gossen, Jan G Grandjean

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    Introduction: Many biomaterials are used in cardio-thoracic surgery with good short-term results. However,
    calcification, dehiscence, and formation of scar tissue are reported. The aim of this research is to characterise
    decellularised pericardium after supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) processing as an alternative biological
    material for uses in cardio-thoracic surgery.

    Methods: Porcine and bovine pericardium were decellularised using scCO2. Mechanical properties such as tensile
    strength, elastic modulus, fracture toughness and suture retention strength were determined. Ultrastructure was
    visualised using Scanning Electron Microscopy. Water uptake and swelling was experimentally determined.
    Commercially available glutaraldehyde treated bovine pericardium was used as gold standard for comparison.

    Results: scCO2 decellularised porcine (and bovine pericardium) maintained their tensile strength compared to
    untreated native pericardium (13.3±2.4 MPa vs 14.0±4.1 MPa, p =0.73). Tensile strength of glutaraldehyde
    treated pericardium was significantly higher compared to untreated pericardium (19.4±7.3 MPa vs
    10.2±2.2 MPa, p=0.02). Suture retention strength of scCO2 treated pericardium was significantly higher than
    glutaraldehyde treated pericardium (p = 0.01). We found no anisotropy of scCO2 or glutaraldehyde treated
    pericardium based on a trouser tear test. Ultrastructure was uncompromised in scCO2 treated pericardium, while
    glutaraldehyde treated pericardium showed deterioration of extracellular matrix.

    Conclusion: scCO2 processing preserves initial mechanical and structural properties of porcine and bovine
    pericardium, while glutaraldehyde processing damages the extracellular matrix of bovine pericardium.
    Decellularisation of tissue using scCO2 might give long-term solutions for cardio-thoracic surgery without
    compromising initial good mechanical properties.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)400
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of the mechanical behavior of biomedical materials
    Early online date3 Oct 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


    • Decellularisation
    • Extracellular matrix
    • Isotropy
    • Cardiovascular mechanics
    • Biomechanics


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