Proanthocyanidin: a natural crosslinking reagent for stabilizing collagen matrices

J Biomed Mater Res A. 2003 Apr 1;65(1):118-24. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.10460.


While attempting to find a suitable crosslinking reagent for biopolymers, a naturally occurring proanthocyanidin (PA) obtained from grape seeds was selected to fix biological tissues. The cytotoxicity and crosslinking rate, reflected by the in vitro and in vivo degradation of fixed matrices has been studied. The shrinkage temperature of the fixed bovine pericardium increased from 66 to 86 degrees C. A cytotoxicity assay using fibroblast cultures revealed that PA is approximately 120 times less toxic than glutaraldehyde (GA), a currently used tissue stabilizer. In vitro degradation studies showed that fixed tissue was resistant to digestion by bacterial collagenase. Crosslinks between PA and tissues can be stabilized by decreasing the dielectric constant of the solution during storage. After subcutaneous implantation for periods ranging between 3 and 6 weeks, we found no apparent degradation of the GA- or PA-fixed tissues, whereas fresh tissue controls rapidly disintegrated. Beyond 6 weeks PA crosslinks began to degrade. More fibroblasts migrated and proliferated inside the PA-fixed implants compared with GA counterparts. Tissues crosslinked with PA manifested an enhanced collagen expression and deposition and did not calcify after implantation. GA, on the other hand, even after thorough rinsing continued to be cytotoxic, inhibited collagen synthesis and encouraged dystrophic calcification. Collagen matrices crosslinked with PA are expected to be of value in the design of matrices that will encourage cell ingrowth and proliferation, which are temporary in nature, and that are intended to regenerate or replace missing tissues, which can delay the biogradation of collagen. As such they should be of significant value in the emerging field of tissue engineering.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / chemistry*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Collagen / chemistry*
  • Cross-Linking Reagents / chemistry*
  • Glutaral / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Pericardium / cytology
  • Proanthocyanidins*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Temperature
  • Tissue Fixation


  • Anthocyanins
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • proanthocyanidin
  • Collagen
  • Glutaral