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The role of extracellular matrix (ECM) composition and turnover in mechano-signaling and the metamorphic fate of cells seeded into decellularized tissue can be elucidated by recent developments in non-invasive imaging and biotechnological analysis methods. Because these methods allow accurate quantification of the composition and structural integrity of the ECM, they can be critical in establishing standardized decellularization protocols. This study proposes quantification of the solid fraction, the single-component fraction and the viscoelasticity of decellularized pancreatic tissues using compact multifrequency magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) to assess the efficiency and quality of decellularization protocols. MRE of native and decellularized pancreatic tissues showed that viscoelasticity parameters depend according to a power law on the solid fraction of the decellularized matrix. The parameters can thus be used as highly sensitive markers of the mechanical integrity of soft tissues. Compact MRE allows consistent and noninvasive quantification of the viscoelastic properties of decellularized tissue. Such a method is urgently needed for the standardized monitoring of decellularization processes, evaluation of mechanical ECM properties, and quantification of the integrity of solid structural elements remaining in the decellularized tissue matrix.
Authors are Joachim Snellings, Eriselda Keshi, Peter Tang, Assal Daneshgar, Esther C. Willma, Luna Haderer, Oliver Klein, Felix Krenzien, Thomas Malink, Patrick Asbach, Johann Pratschke, Igor M. Sauer, Jürgen Braun, Ingolf Sack, and Karl Hillebrandt.