Extracellular matrix (ECM) plays key roles in shaping fates of stem cells, not only by providing a suitable niche but also by mediating physical and biochemical cues. Despite intensive investigations on regeneration, the roles of ECM in fate determination of stem cells in animals with great regenerative potency, such as planarian, have remained unclear. Here, we developed a method for decellularizing and isolating extracellular matrix from planarians. Although the isolated scaffold appears translucent, it contains all the internal features resembling those of the structure of intact planarians, and we thus called it the “ECM-body”. Nuclear staining demonstrated that the ECM-body contains very few or no remaining cells. Histological sections displayed well-preserved morphological integrity of the specimen. Scanning electron microscopy showed a porous surface on the ECM-body, potentially suitable for housing cells. Furthermore, our preliminary experiment suggested that ECM-body can be utilized as a biomimetic scaffold for cell culture as it may support survival of injected neoblasts.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4