ECM Hydrogels for Regenerative Medicine

  • Michael J. Sawkins
  • Lindsey T. Saldin
  • Stephen F. Badylak
  • Lisa J. White
Part of the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine book series (STEMCELL)


The ECM is a highly complex mix of structural and functional proteins and other biomolecules. These molecules are secreted by the cells resident in every tissue in the body but can also influence their behavior through a process of “dynamic reciprocity.” As a result, there has been significant interest in utilizing ECM as a biologic scaffold material in tissue repair and replacement. Numerous preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of ECM biomaterials, and more than 4 million patients have now been treated with these scaffold materials. The discovery that these materials could be formed into hydrogels promised to further expand their clinical utility by offering minimally invasive delivery and the ability to fill irregularly shaped defects. This chapter will briefly outline the history and characterization of ECM biomaterials and their evolution from single sheet to multisheet, powder, and ultimately hydrogel form. The first studies describing the production of early-generation ECM hydrogels used well-characterized porcine small intestinal submucosa and urinary bladder matrix, and these materials will be discussed in the context of the general methods used to produce and characterize ECM hydrogels. A detailed consideration of the many second-generation hydrogels which have since been produced from a wide range of tissues will then be discussed in the context of tissue specificity. The hydrogels discussed in this chapter have been evaluated in vitro or in small scale in vivo animal studies. More substantial evaluation is required before these materials can be considered ready for clinical application, but these hydrogels provide the possibility for minimally invasive delivery, treatment of irregularly shaped defects in anatomic sites that prove challenging for invasive surgical procedures, and may provide an ECM formation that delivers immediate bioactivity as a consequence of its distinctive biomolecular composition.


Adipose Brain Cartilage Central nervous system Cornea Decellularization Demineralized bone matrix Dermis Extracellular matrix Hydrogel Intervertebral disk Ligament Liver Myocardium Nucleus pulposus Pericardium Regenerative medicine Skeletal muscle Skin Spinal cord Small intestinal submucosa Tendon Tissue engineering Tissue specificity Urinary bladder matrix Vocal fold 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Sawkins
    • 1
  • Lindsey T. Saldin
    • 2
  • Stephen F. Badylak
    • 3
  • Lisa J. White
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyRoyal College of Surgeons in IrelandDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Surgery and BioengineeringUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.School of PharmacyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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