Antigen clearing from porcine heart valves with preservation of structural integrity

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Bioprostheses currently used for replacement of diseased cardiovascular tissue are preserved and partially protected from immune rejection through chemical fixation. However, after implantation, chemically preserved (fixed) material has limited durability and lacks the ability to revitalize through cellular ingrowth and remodeling. As an alternative to fixation, we aimed at thoroughly removing antigens from tissue, leaving an intact scaffold, suitable for integration and revitalization in the host. Extensive washing of porcine heart valves with a mixture of two detergents (SDS and Triton X-100) yielded an intact matrix devoid of cells and depleted of soluble proteins that was minimally immunogenic in rabbits. A detailed characterization of the biomechanics and durability of the tissue is under way. If the lack of immunogenicity is confirmed in primates, our results would suggest that a detergent-washed, unfixed porcine heart valve can be an attractive non-inflammatory scaffold for heart valve regeneration in humans. (Int J Artif Organs 2006; 29: 781–9)

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