Spinach and Chive for Kidney Tubule Engineering: the Limitations of Decellularized Plant Scaffolds and Vasculature

Katja Jansen, Marianna Evangelopoulou, Carla Pou Casellas, Sarina Abrishamcar, Jitske Jansen, Tina Vermonden & Rosalinde Masereeuw

Published: January 2021


Tissue decellularization yields complex scaffolds with retained composition and structure, and plants offer an inexhaustible natural source of numerous shapes. Plant tissue could be a solution for regenerative organ replacement strategies and advanced in vitro modeling, as biofunctionalization of decellularized tissue allows adhesion of various kinds of human cells that can grow into functional tissue. Here, we investigated the potential of spinach leaf vasculature and chive stems for kidney tubule engineering to apply in tubular transport studies. We successfully decellularized both plant tissues and confirmed general scaffold suitability for topical recellularization with renal cells. However, due to anatomical restrictions, we believe that spinach and chive vasculature themselves cannot be recellularized by current methods. Moreover, gradual tissue disintegration and deficient diffusion capacity make decellularized plant scaffolds unsuitable for kidney tubule engineering, which relies on transepithelial solute exchange between two compartments. We conclude that plant-derived structures and biomaterials need to be carefully considered and possibly integrated with other tissue engineering technologies for enhanced capabilities.

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