Ultrasonic cavitation to prepare ECM hydrogels

George S. Hussey, David G. Nascari, Lindsey T. Saldin, Brian Kolich, Yoojin C. Lee, Raphael J. Crum, Salma O. El-Mossier, William D'Angelo, Jenna L. Dziki, Stephen F. Badylak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Hydrogels composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) have been used as a substrate for 3D organoid culture, and in numerous preclinical and clinical applications to facilitate repair and reconstruction of a variety of tissues. However, these ECM hydrogel materials are fabricated using lengthy methods that have focused on enzymatic digestion of the ECM with an acid protease in an acidic solution; or the use of chaotropic extraction buffers and dialysis procedures which can affect native protein structure and function. Herein we report a method to prepare hydrogels from ECM bioscaffolds using ultrasonic cavitation. The solubilized ECM can be induced to rapidly self-assemble into a gel by adjusting temperature, and the material properties of the gel can be tailored by adjusting ECM concentration and sonication parameters. The present study shows that ECM bioscaffolds can be successfully solubilized without enzymatic digestion and induced to repolymerize into a gel form capable of supporting cell growth. Statement of Significance: ECM hydrogels have been used in numerous preclinical studies to facilitate repair of tissue following injury. However, there has been relatively little advancement in manufacturing techniques, thereby impeding progress in advancing this technology toward the clinic. Laboratory techniques for producing ECM hydrogels have focused on protease digestion methods, which require lengthy incubation times. The significance of this work lies in the development of a fundamentally different approach whereby an ECM hydrogel is rapidly formed without the need for acidic solutions or protease digestion. The ultrasonic cavitation method described herein represents a marked improvement in rheological properties and processing time over traditional enzymatic methods, and may lend itself as a platform for large-scale manufacturing of ECM hydrogels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Extracellular matrix
  • Hydrogels
  • Sonication
  • Ultrasonic cavitation


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