Native Bovine and Porcine Pericardia Respond to Load With Additive Recruitment of Collagen Fibers

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Bovine and porcine pericardia are currently used for manufacturing prosthetic heart valves: their design has become an increasingly important area of investigation in parallel with progressively expanding indications for the transcutaneous approach to heart valves replacement. Before being cut and shaped, pericardial tissues are expected to be properly characterized. Actually, the mechanical assessment of these biomaterials lacks standardized protocols. In particular, the role of preconditioning for achieving a constant mechanical response of tissue samples is still controversial. In the present work, the mechanical response to uniaxial load of native bovine and porcine pericardia, with and without preconditioning was assessed; moreover, the mechanical behavior of pericardia was investigated and explained. It was demonstrated that: (i) pericardial tissue samples hold memory of the loading history but just within the extent of the deformation applied; (ii) the behavior of native bovine and porcine pericardia in response to load is explained by a mechanism based on the additive recruitment of collagen fibers; (iii) the current concept that plasticity is absent in pericardium has to be at least in part reconsidered.

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