Water absorption by decellularized dermis was investigated and compared with biopolymer and synthetic polymer hydrogels (glutaraldehyde-crosslinked gelatin and crosslinked poly(acrylamide) hydrogel, respectively). Porcine dermis was decellularized in an aqueous sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) solution. Histological evaluation revealed that the SDS-treated dermis has much larger gaps between collagen fibrils than non-treated dermis, and that water absorption depends on these gaps. Decellularized dermis has low water absorptivity and the absorption obeys Fick's second law. During absorption, the water diffusion rate decreases with time and occurs in two steps. The first is rapid absorption into the large gaps, followed by slow absorption by the collagen fiber layer. Because of the gaps, decellularized dermis can absorb more water than native dermis and shows different water absorption behavior to glutaraldehyde-crosslinked gelatin and crosslinked poly(acrylamide) hydrogels.
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