Numerous studies have focused on generation of unfixed bovine pericardium (BP) extracellular matrix (ECM) for clinical application. However, the extent to which maintenance of native ECM niche is capable of directing behavior of repopulating cells remains relatively unexplored. By exploiting the sidedness of BP scaffolds (i.e., serous or fibrous surface), this study aims to determine the effect of ECM niche preservation on cellular repopulation using different scaffold generation methods. BP underwent either sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) decellularization or stepwise, solubilization-based antigen removal using amidosulfobetaine-14 (ASB-14). SDS scaffolds were toxic to repopulating human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC). Scanning electron microscopy revealed distinct surface ultrastructure of ASB-14 scaffolds based on native BP sidedness. Basement membrane structures on the serous side stimulated hMSC cell monolayer formation, whereas fibrous side facilitated cell penetration into scaffold. Additionally, serous side seeding significantly increased hMSC adhesion and proliferation rate compared to the fibrous side. Furthermore, scaffold ECM niche stimulated sidedness dependent differential hMSC human leukocyte antigen expression, angiogenic and inflammatory cytokine secretion. This work demonstrates that ECM scaffold preparation method and preservation of BP side-based niches critically affects in vitro cell growth patterns and behavior, which has implications for use of such ECM biomaterials in clinical practice.
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