Decellularized Spinach Biomaterials Support Physiologically Relevant Mechanical Cyclic Strain and Prompt a Stretch-Induced Cellular Response

Ashlee F. Harris, Jerome Lacombe, Noelia M. Sanchez-Ballester, Shaun Victor, Killian A.J. Curran, Alan R. Nordquist, Baiju Thomas, Jian Gu, Jean Luc Veuthey, Ian Soulairol, Frederic Zenhausern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recently, decellularized plant biomaterials have been explored for their use as tissue engineered substitutes. Herein, we expanded upon the investigation of the mechanical properties of these materials to explore their elasticity as many anatomical areas of the body require biomechanical dynamism. We first constructed a device to secure the scaffold and induce a strain within the physiological range of the normal human adult lung during breathing (12-20 movements/min; 10-20% elongation). Results showed that decellularized spinach leaves can support cyclic strain for 24 h and displayed heterogeneous local strain values (7.76-15.88%) as well as a Poisson's ratio (0.12) similar to that of mammalian lungs (10.67-19.67%; 0.01), as opposed to an incompressible homogeneous standard polymer (such as PDMS (10.85-12.71%; 0.4)). Imaging and mechanical testing showed that the vegetal scaffold exhibited strain hardening but maintained its structural architecture and water retention capacity, suggesting an unaltered porosity. Interestingly, we also showed that cells seeded on the scaffold can also sense the mechanical strain as demonstrated by a nuclear reorientation perpendicular to strain direction (63.3° compared to 41.2° for nonstretched cells), a nuclear location of YAP and increased expression of YAP target genes, a high cytoplasmic calcium level, and an elevated expression level of collagen genes (COL1A1, COL3A1, COL4A1, and COL6A) with an increased collagen secretion at the protein level. Taken together, these data demonstrated that decellularized plant leaf tissues have an inherent elastic property similar to that found in the mammalian system to which cells can sense and respond. copy; 2022 American Chemical Society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5682-5692
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 19 2022


  • biomaterial
  • decellularization
  • elongation
  • lung
  • mechanotransduction
  • plant-based scaffolds
  • stretching
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, medical


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