Hydrated xenogeneic decellularized tracheal matrix as a scaffold for tracheal reconstruction

Nathaniel T. Remlinger, Caitlin A. Czajka, Mark E. Juhas, David A. Vorp, Donna B. Stolz, Stephen F. Badylak, Sebastien Gilbert, Thomas W. Gilbert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Tracheal injury is a rare but complex problem. Primary tracheal reconstructions are commonly performed, but complications such as tension and inadequate vascular supply limit the length of surgical resection. The objective of the present study was to determine whether a hydrated, decellularized porcine tracheal extracellular matrix showed the potential to serve as a functional tracheal replacement graft. Porcine tracheas were decellularized and evaluated to characterize their biochemical composition and biomechanical behavior. Hydrated decellularized tracheal matrix (HDTM) grafts (>5 cm) were implanted heterotopically beneath the strap muscle and wrapped in the omentum in a canine model for 2 and 8 weeks followed by histologic and mechanical analysis. HDTM patches (2 × 3 cm) were also used in a patch tracheoplasty model. The repair site was evaluated bronchoscopically and radiographically, and the grafts were analyzed by histologic methods to evaluate epithelialization and persistence of the cartilage rings. The present study showed that HDTM maintains mechanical characteristics necessary for function under physiologic loading conditions even after 8 weeks of heterotopic implantation. After orthotopic implantation, the grafts were shown to support development of a columnar, pseudostratified, ciliated epithelium, but the cartilage structures showed histologic evidence of degradation and limited new cartilage formation. The results of the study showed tracheal ECM scaffolds support the formation of site-specific epithelium and provide sufficient mechanical integrity withstand physiologic pressures in the short-term. However, for long-term success, it appears that pre-implantation to allow vascularization or preseeding of the graft with chondrocytes will be necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3520-3526
Number of pages7
Issue number13
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cartilage
  • ECM (extracellular matrix)
  • Epithelium
  • In vivo test
  • Mechanical properties
  • Trachea


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