This term refers to some form of biological material that is lacking intact cells, not divided into cells or devoid of cells. Consider that an acellular vaccine contains cellular material; however, the cells are not complete. In dentistry, acellular dermis is frequently used to address issues related to gingival tissue. Acellular dermis is biomaterial that is derived from animal or human tissue. This tissue is processed in such a way as to remove cells, while retaining some of the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM consists of a collection of extracellular molecules that are secreted by support cells. These cells provide biochemical and structural support to surrounding cells. Although the structure of an extracellular matrix depends on where the tissue originated, all ECMs consist of proteoglycans, collagen fibers and multi adhesive proteins.

Functions of the ECM include:

  • Segregating tissues
  • Controlling the communication that occurs between the cells
  • Forming a support structure for the cells
  • Regulating various cell processes (e.g., migration, growth and differentiation)