Organ transplantation in an orthotopic location is the current treatment for end-stage organ failure. However, the need for transplantable organs far exceeds the number of available donor organs. As a result, new options, such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, have been explored to achieve functional organ replacement. Although there have been many advances in the laboratory leading to the reconstruction of tissue and organ structures in vitro, these efforts have fallen short of producing organs that contain intact vascular networks capable of nutrient and gas exchange and are suitable for transplantation. Recently, advances in whole organ decellularization techniques have enabled the fabrication of scaffolds for engineering new organs. These scaffolds, consisting of naturally-derived extracellular matrix (ECM), provide biological signals and maintain tissue microarchitecture, including intact vascular systems that could integrate into the recipient's circulatory system. The decellularization techniques have led to the development of scaffolds for multiple organs, including the heart, liver, lung and kidney. While the experimental studies involving the use of decellularized organ scaffolds are encouraging, the translation of whole organ engineering into the clinic is still distant. This paper reviews recently described techniques used to decellularize whole organs such as the heart, lung, liver and kidney and describes possible methods for using these matrices for whole organ engineering.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering