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Allograft heart valves: Current aspects and future applications

: Lisy, M.; Kalender, G.; Schenke-Layland, K.; Brockbank, K.G.M.; Biermann, A.; Stock, U.A.


Biopreservation and Biobanking 15 (2017), No.2, pp.148-157
ISSN: 1947-5535
ISSN: 1947-5543
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IGB ()

Human heart valve allografts continue to represent almost perfect substitutes for heart valves. They have optimal hemodynamic characteristics and are highly resistant to infections. The first clinical use of allograft heart valves was as homovitals being transplanted after antibiotic incubation without any preservation. Since 1968, relatively standardized frozen cryopreservation (SFC) has been employed, including storage in vapor-phase liquid nitrogen. Disadvantages, particularly in pediatric patients, are limited availability due to organ scarcity, inability to grow, degeneration, immune response, and long-term failure. However, in contrast to alternative prosthetic or bioprosthetic heart valve replacements, they represent the best pediatric and juvenile replacement options for the pulmonary valve. Application of multiphoton imaging analysis for three-dimensional visualization of elastin and collagen by induction of autofluorescence without chemical fixation, embedding, and staining has revealed partial destruction of elastic and collagenous matrix in SFC valves. As the overall amount of collagen and elastin remains unchanged, the observed destruction is attributed to freezing-induced extracellular matrix damages due to ice crystal formation during SFC. The objective of this review is an assessment of current allograft preservation methods and the potential of novel preservation techniques to avoid ice formation with accompanied better long-term function.