Because of the lack of donor corneas, an important area of research is the development of bioengineered corneal scaffolds to treat corneal blindness. Decellularized cornea has become a prominent area of research to satisfy the clinical demand. However, the limitation of its application is that a suitable decellularization procedure has not been developed. Organic acids are naturally occurring constituents in animal tissues and plants, and could be safely neutralized into harmless salts. In this study, we developed decellularized porcine corneal (dPC) scaffolds that were prepared by organic acid treatment. Cell removal and intact extracellular matrix preservation were evidenced by histological and biochemical quantitative analysis, and the dPC scaffolds showed porous parallel lamellar microstructure and excellent biomechanical properties. In vitro cell culture demonstrated that the dPC scaffolds had good biocompatibility, and the porous microstructure provided an ideal space for the growth of stroma keratocytes. Moreover, in vivo implantation revealed ideal reepithelialization, stromal recellularization, and complete transparency during the full follow-up period. Thus, dPC scaffolds that were prepared by organic acid treatment could be a promising biological material for use in corneal transplantation.
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