Extracellular matrix-enriched polymeric scaffolds as a substrate for hepatocyte cultures: In vitro and in vivo studies

B. Zavan, P. Brun, V. Vindigni, A. Amadori, W. Habeler, P. Pontisso, D. Montemurro, G. Abatangelo, R. Cortivo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tissue engineering is a promising approach to developing hepatic tissue suitable for the functional replacement of a failing liver. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether an extracellular cell matrix obtained from fibroblasts-cultured within scaffolds of hyaluronic acid (HYAFF™) could influence the proliferation rate and survival of rat hepatocytes both during long-term culture and after in vivo transplantation. Cultures were evaluated by histological and morphological analysis, a proliferation assay and metabolic activity (albumin secretion). Hepatocytes cultured in extracellular matrix-enriched scaffolds exhibited a round cellular morphology and re-established cell-cell contacts, growing into aggregates of several cells along and/or among fibers in the fabric. Hepatocytes were able to secrete albumin up to 14 days in culture. In vivo results demonstrated the biocompatibility of HYAFF-11TM implanted in nude mice, in which hepatocytes maintained small well-organised aggregates until the 35th day. In conclusion, the presence of a fibroblast-secreted extracellular matrix improved the biological properties of the hyaluronan scaffold, favoring the survival and morphological integrity of hepatocytes in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7038-7045
Number of pages8
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • Biomaterial
  • Cell culture
  • Cell morphology
  • Fibroblast
  • Hepatocyte
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Scaffold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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