1. Department of Urology, Shanghai Children's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200062, China.
2. Department of Urology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai 200233, China.
3. Shanghai Eastern Urological Reconstruction and Repair institute, Shanghai 200233, China.
4. Department of Urology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200065, China.
5. Central Laboratory, Shanghai Children's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200062, China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.
Rationale: Construction of functional vascularized three-dimensional tissues has been a longstanding objective in the field of tissue engineering. The efficacy of using a tissue expander capsule as an induced vascular bed to prefabricate functional vascularized smooth muscle tissue flaps for bladder reconstruction in a rabbit model was tested.
Methods: Skin tissue expanders were inserted into the groin to induce vascularized capsule pouch formation. Smooth muscle cells and endothelial progenitor cells were harvested and cocultured to form pre-vascularized smooth muscle cell sheet. Then repeated transplantation of triple-layer cell sheet grafts onto the vascularized capsular tissue was performed at 2-day intervals to prefabricate functional vascularized smooth muscle tissue flaps. Bladder muscular wall defects were created and repaired by six-layer cell sheet graft (sheet only), capsule flap (capsule only) and vascularized capsule prelaminated with smooth muscle cell sheet (sheet plus capsule). The animals were followed for 3 months after implantation and their bladders were explanted serially.
Results: Bladder capacity and compliance were maintained in sheet plus capsule group throughout the 3 months. Tissue bath stimulation demonstrated that contractile responses to carbachol and KCl among the three groups revealed a significant difference (p < 0.05). Histologically, inflammation was evident in the capsule only group at 1 month and fibrosis was observed in sheet only group at 3 months. The vessel density in capsule only and sheet plus capsule group were significantly higher than in the sheet only group at each time point (p < 0.05). Comparison of the smooth muscle content among the three groups revealed a significant difference (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: These results proved that the capsule may serve as an induced vascular bed for vascularized smooth muscle tissue flap prefabrication. The prefabricated functional vascularized smooth muscle tissue flap has the potential for reliable bladder reconstruction and may create new opportunities for vascularization in 3-D tissue engineering.
Keywords: tissue engineering, vascularization, cell sheet, prefabrication, bladder