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Tissue engineered muscle implantation for tongue reconstruction: A preliminary report



Objectives/Hypothesis: Because current tongue reconstructive methods introduce adynamic, variably sensate tissue into the mouth, the critical functions of the tongue in articulation and deglutition may be compromised. The objective of this work was to introduce a combination of myoblasts and scaffolding material into rat hemiglossectomy defects and to examine the extent of neomuscle formation in the reconstructed area, under the hypothesis that the presence of myoblasts leads to formation of new muscle. Study Design: Randomized, prospective animal study. Methods: Myoblasts were harvested from neonatal Lewis rats, and a growth factor enriched collagen gel was prepared. Syngeneic adult animals received either hemiglossectomy alone or reconstruction with one of four experimental reconstructive preparations: collagen gel alone, collagen gel with suspended myoblasts, the gel-cell combination in undifferentiated muscle construct form by way of tissue culture for 7 days in a preformed mold, or differentiated constructs, cultured in myoblast fusion medium. After 6 or 16 weeks, animal weight gain was recorded, animals were killed, and the tongues harvested. The tissue was examined histologically, and quality of the muscular regenerate was rated on a scale according to predefined criteria. Results: Animals in all groups gained weight appropriately. In groups receiving hemiglossectomy alone or acellular (gel only) reconstruction, there was significant scarring and lack of neomuscle formation. In groups receiving myoblast transplantation, either by way of gel suspension or in the form of undifferentiated or differentiated constructs, muscle quality was superior to controls. Conclusions: Myoblast transplantation into hemiglossectomy defects appears to lead to new muscle formation and does not inhibit normal weight gain in animals after tongue implantation.