Decellularization of the Human Liver to Generate Native Extracellular Matrix for Use in Automated Functional Assays with Stellate Cells

Emma L Shepherd, Ellie Northall, Pantelitsa Papakyriacou, Karolina Safranska, Karen K Sorensen, Patricia F Lalor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


With the incidence of liver disease on the rise globally, increasing numbers of patients are presenting with advanced hepatic fibrosis and significant mortality risk. The demand far outstrips possible transplantation capacities, and thus there is an intense drive to develop new pharmacological therapies that stall or reverse liver scarring. Recent late-stage failures of lead compounds have highlighted the challenges of resolving fibrosis, which has developed and stabilized over many years and varies in nature and composition from individual to individual. Hence, preclinical tools are being developed in both the hepatology and tissue engineering communities to elucidate the nature, composition, and cellular interactions of the hepatic extracellular niche in health and disease. In this protocol, we describe strategies for decellularizing cirrhotic and healthy human liver specimens and show how these can be used in simple functional assays to detect the impact on stellate cell function. Our simple, small-scale approach is translatable to diverse lab settings and generates cell-free materials which could be used for a variety of in vitro analyses as well as a scaffold for repopulating with key hepatic cell populations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHepatic Stellate Cells
EditorsR. Weiskirchen, S.L. Friedman
PublisherHumana Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-0716-3207-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-0716-3206-2
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023

Publication series

NameMethods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
PublisherHumana Press
ISSN (Print)1064-3745

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study includes independent research supported by the Birmingham National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre, based at the University of Birmingham. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute of Health Research, or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Humans
  • Liver/physiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis
  • Liver Diseases
  • Tissue Engineering/methods
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Tissue Scaffolds


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