Tissue-Engineered Tracheal Reconstruction Using Three-Dimensionally Printed Artificial Tracheal Graft: Preliminary Report

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Abstract

Three-dimensional printing has come into the spotlight in the realm of tissue engineering. We intended to evaluate the plausibility of 3D-printed (3DP) scaffold coated with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) seeded in fibrin for the repair of partial tracheal defects. MSCs from rabbit bone marrow were expanded and cultured. A half-pipe-shaped 3DP polycaprolactone scaffold was coated with the MSCs seeded in fibrin. The half-pipe tracheal graft was implanted on a 10 × 10-mm artificial tracheal defect in four rabbits. Four and eight weeks after the operation, the reconstructed sites were evaluated bronchoscopically, radiologically, histologically, and functionally. None of the four rabbits showed any sign of respiratory distress. Endoscopic examination and computed tomography showed successful reconstruction of trachea without any collapse or blockage. The replaced tracheas were completely covered with regenerated respiratory mucosa. Histologic analysis showed that the implanted 3DP tracheal grafts were successfully integrated with the adjacent trachea without disruption or granulation tissue formation. Neo-cartilage formation inside the implanted graft was sufficient to maintain the patency of the reconstructed trachea. Scanning electron microscope examination confirmed the regeneration of the cilia, and beating frequency of regenerated cilia was not different from those of the normal adjacent mucosa. The shape and function of reconstructed trachea using 3DP scaffold coated with MSCs seeded in fibrin were restored successfully without any graft rejection.

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