Alterations of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A Expression and Microvessel Density Associated With Polypropylene Vaginal Mesh

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Vaginal mesh exposure is the most common complication from mesh use in prolapse and incontinence surgery. Angiogenesis is an essential component of tissue healing, and defective angiogenesis plays a role in chronic wounds. We hypothesized that patients with exposures will have impaired angiogenesis as evidenced by altered tissue vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) expression and microvessel density. The study objective was to compare angiogenesis in women with vaginal mesh exposures, those with vaginal mesh without exposures, and in women who were mesh-naive.


Patients undergoing polypropylene mesh removal and patients without mesh undergoing urinary incontinence or prolapse surgery were recruited. Full-thickness vaginal epithelial biopsies were obtained. The relative abundance of VEGFA RNA was measured with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The VEGFA and CD31 immunohistochemistry were also performed.


Ninety-two subjects were enrolled and biopsied. Mean age (SD) was 57.2 (12.8) years, 16 (17.4%) were smokers, and 68 (73.9%) were postmenopausal.


The VEGFA RNA expression did not differ between subjects with mesh exposure and with mesh but no exposure (P = 0.89). However, compared with subjects with no mesh, vaginal VEGFA expression was decreased in subjects with any implanted mesh (relative expression, 0.72; P = 0.02). Microvessel density was increased in subjects with mesh exposure compared with subjects with no mesh (P < 0.01). The VEGFA expression by immunohistochemistry was significantly lower in postmenopausal subjects without estrogen treatment compared with premenopausal and postmenopausal subjects being treated with estrogen (P = 0.02).


The presence of polypropylene mesh and hormonal status are associated with evidence of altered angiogenesis.

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