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In vitro and in vivo proposal of an artificial esophagus



Artificial materials and autologous tissues used for esophageal reconstruction often induce complications like stenosis and leakage at long-term follow-up. This study evaluates the possibility to obtain in vitro an implantable tissue-engineered esophagus composed of homologous esophageal acellular matrix and autologous smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Acellular matrices obtained by detergent-enzymatic method did not present any major histocompatibility complex marker and expressed bFGF as protein, showing angiogenic activity in vivo on the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM). Moreover, they supported cell adhesion, and inasmuch as just after 24 h from seeding, the scaffold appeared completely covered by SMCs. To verify the biocompatibility of our constructs, defects created in the porcine esophageal wall were covered using homologous acellular matrices with and without cultures of autologous SMCs. At 3 week from surgery, the patches composed of only acellular matrices showed a more severe inflammatory response and were negative for α-smooth muscle actin immunostaining. In contrast, the cell-matrix implants presented ingrowth of SMCs, showing an early organization into small fascicules. Collectively, these results suggest that patches composed of homologous esophageal acellular matrix and autologous SMCs may represent a promising tissue-engineering approach for the repair of esophageal injuries. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 2006