Severe liver disease is the 12th leading cause of death in the USA, with organ transplantation often being the only viable option for treatment. However, due to the shortage of viable donor livers, it is estimated that over 1200 patients died in 2015 while waiting for liver transplantation. This highlights the need for alternative sources of viable organs. In this study, we describe a method that provides the groundwork for the development of functional liver grafts. The approach described here is for removal of cells from intact livers and subsequently repopulating them with functional liver cells. Briefly, rat livers are harvested and subjected to a series of perfusion decellularization steps using an anionic detergent such that an intact decellularized liver matrix (DLM) scaffold with preserved vascular architecture is obtained. Further, we describe methods to recellularize DLM scaffolds with adult primary hepatocytes, creating a liver graft that exhibits hepatic functions in vitro.
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