BACKGROUND: Over the last few years, new treatments for a damaged intervertebral disc (IVD) have included strategies to repair, replace, or regenerate the degenerative disc. However, these techniques are likely to have limited success, due to insufficiently effective means to address the damaged anulus fibrosus (AF). Here, we try to develop a bioprocess method for decellularization of the xenogeneic AF tissue, with a view to developing a scaffold as a potential candidate for clinical application in spinal surgery. METHODS: Porcine AFs were decellularized using freeze-thaw cycles, followed by various combined treatments with 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and nucleases. RESULTS: Hematoxylin and eosin (H & E) staining showed that decellularization was achieved through the decellularization protocols. Biochemical analyses revealed 86% reduction in DNA, but only 15.9% reduction in glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content, with no significant difference in the hydroxyproline content. There was no appreciable cytotoxicity of the acellular AF. Biomechanical testing of the acellular AF found no significant decline in stiffness or Young's modulus. CONCLUSIONS: Porcine AF tissues were effectively decellularized with the preservation of biologic composition and mechanical properties. These results demonstrate that acellular AF scaffolds would be a potential candidate for clinical application in spinal surgery.
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