Comparable Decellularization of Fetal and Adult Cardiac Tissue Explants as 3D-like Platforms for In Vitro Studies

J Vis Exp. 2019 Mar 21;(145). doi: 10.3791/56924.


Current knowledge of extracellular matrix (ECM)-cell communication translates to large two-dimensional (2D) in vitro culture studies where ECM components are presented as a surface coating. These culture systems constitute a simplification of the complex nature of the tissue ECM that encompasses biochemical composition, structure, and mechanical properties. To better emulate the ECM-cell communication shaping the cardiac microenvironment, we developed a protocol that allows for the decellularization of the whole fetal heart and adult left ventricle tissue explants simultaneously for comparative studies. The protocol combines the use of a hypotonic buffer, a detergent of anionic surfactant properties, and DNase treatment without any requirement for specialized skills or equipment. The application of the same decellularization strategy across tissue samples from subjects of various age is an alternative approach to perform comparative studies. The present protocol allows the identification of unique structural differences across fetal and adult cardiac ECM mesh and biological cellular responses. Furthermore, the herein methodology demonstrates a broader application being successfully applied in other tissues and species with minor adjustments, such as in human intestine biopsies and mouse lung.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Fetus / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Myocardium / cytology*
  • Tissue Engineering