Cadaver donation: structural integrity of pulmonary homografts harvested 48 h post mortem in the juvenile ovine model
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Cryopreserved pulmonary homograft (CPH) implantation remains the gold standard for reconstruction of the right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT). Harvesting homografts < 24-h post mortem is the international norm, thereby largely excluding cadaveric donors. This study examines the structural integrity and stability of ovine pulmonary homografts harvested after a 48-h post mortem period, cryopreserved and then implanted for up to 180 days. Fifteen ovine pulmonary homografts were harvested 48-h post mortem and cryopreserved. Five CPH served as a control group (group 1; n = 5). CPH were implanted in the RVOT of juvenile sheep and explanted after 14 days (group 2; n = 5) and 180 days (group 3; n = 5). Leaflet integrity was evaluated by strength analysis, using tensile strength (TS), Young’s modulus (YM) and thermal denaturation temperature (Td), and morphology, including haematoxylin and eosin (H&E), Picrosirius red staining, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and von Kossa stains. Echocardiography confirmed normal function in all implants. In explants, no reduction in TS, YM or Td could be demonstrated and H&E showed mostly acellular leaflet tissue with no difference on Picrosirius red. TEM demonstrated consistent collagen disruption after cryopreservation in all three groups, with no morphological deterioration during the study period. von Kossa stains showed mild calcification in group 3. No deterioration of structural integrity could be demonstrated using strength or morphological evaluations between the controls and implant groups over the study period. Extending the post mortem harvesting time of homografts beyond 24 h did not appear to negatively affect the long-term performance of such transplanted valves in this study.
KeywordsJuvenile ovine model Homografts Ischaemic time Right ventricular outflow tract Structural integrity
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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