Despite significant advances in the fabrication of bioengineered scaffolds for tissue engineering, delivery of nutrients in complex engineered human tissues remains a challenge. By taking advantage of the similarities in the vascular structure of plant and animal tissues, we developed decellularized plant tissue as a prevascularized scaffold for tissue engineering applications. Perfusion-based decellularization was modified for different plant species, providing different geometries of scaffolding. After decellularization, plant scaffolds remained patent and able to transport microparticles. Plant scaffolds were recellularized with human endothelial cells that colonized the inner surfaces of plant vasculature. Human mesenchymal stem cells and human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes adhered to the outer surfaces of plant scaffolds. Cardiomyocytes demonstrated contractile function and calcium handling capabilities over the course of 21 days. These data demonstrate the potential of decellularized plants as scaffolds for tissue engineering, which could ultimately provide a cost-efficient, “green” technology for regenerating large volume vascularized tissue mass.
Gershlak, J., Hernandez, S., Fontana, G., Perreault, L., Hansen, K., Larson, S., … Gaudette, G. (2017). Crossing kingdoms: Using decellularized plants as perfusable tissue engineering scaffolds. Biomaterials, 125, 13–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.02.011
*denotes a WPI undergraduate student author