Evaluation of cellular ingrowth within porcine extracellular matrix scaffolding in congenital heart disease surgery

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The search for an ideal material for cardiac tissue repair has led to utilization of porcine small intestinal submucosa extracellular matrix (CorMatrix). Here, we examine the histologic features of CorMatrix and the associated cellular growth at a variety of time intervals. Tissues with CorMatrix from ten patients (4 male, 6 female) with ages ranging from 2 weeks to 2 years, and implant duration ranging from 1 week to 2 years were included in this study. Samples for analysis were collected at autopsy. Surgical repair sites included great vessel repair (n=9), atrial septum defect (n=1), coronary vessels (n=1), as well as aortic (n=1) and mitral valve (n=2) leaflets. In all specimens, CorMatrix was composed of dense laminated regions of collagen, without appreciable elastin staining. In most grafts, especially those implanted for extended periods of time, tissue with luminal CD31 positivity covered the intimal surface of the CorMatrix graft. This tissue (neo-intima) consisted of spindled myofibroblasts (SMA) and small CD31 positive vessels with occasional mononuclear cells in a matrix composed of collagen, glycosaminoglycans, and rarely elastin, after extended periods of implantation. These features were readily identified in patients as early as 1 month after CorMatrix implantation. The matrix comprising the CorMatrix itself remained largely acellular, despite implantation times up to 2 years, with degradation of the graft material. We provide a framework for histologic expectations when evaluating explanted CorMatrix grafts. In this regard, the CorMatrix matrix is likely to remain acellular without significant elastin deposition, whereas the intimal and adventitial surfaces become coated by proliferating cells in a novel matrix of collagen and glycosaminoglycans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalCardiovascular Pathology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Congenital heart disease
  • CorMatrix
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Great vessel repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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