Functional Role of Glycosaminoglycans in Decellularized Lung Extracellular Matrix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Despite progress in use of decellularized lung scaffolds in ex vivo lung bioengineering schemes, including use of gels and other materials derived from the scaffolds, the detailed composition and functional role of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteoglycans (PGs) and their glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains remaining in decellularized lungs, is poorly understood. Using a commonly utilized detergent-based decellularization approach in human autopsy lungs resulted in disproportionate losses of GAGs with depletion of chondroitin sulfate/dermatan sulfate (CS/DS) > heparan sulfate (HS) > hyaluronic acid (HA). Specific changes in disaccharide composition of remaining GAGs were observed with disproportionate loss of NS and NS2S for HS groups and of 4S for CS/DS groups. No significant influence of smoking history, sex, time to autopsy, or age was observed in native vs. decellularized lungs. Notably, surface plasmon resonance demonstrated that GAGs remaining in decellularized lungs were unable to bind key matrix-associated growth factors FGF2, HGF, and TGFβ1. Growth of lung epithelial, pulmonary vascular, and stromal cells cultured on the surface of or embedded within gels derived from decellularized human lungs was differentially and combinatorially enhanced by replenishing specific GAGs and FGF2, HGF, and TGFβ1. In summary, lung decellularization results in loss and/or dysfunction of specific GAGs or side chains significantly affecting matrix-associated growth factor binding and lung cell metabolism. GAG and matrix-associated growth factor replenishment thus needs to be incorporated into schemes for investigations utilizing gels and other materials produced from decellularized human lungs.


External organisations
  • University of Vermont
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biomaterials Science


  • Lung, Decellularization, Glycosaminoglycan, Matrix-associated growth factors, COPD, extracellular matrix gel
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-246
Number of pages16
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Early online date2019 Nov 19
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 15
Publication categoryResearch