Novel three-dimensional autologous tissue-engineered vaginal tissues using the self-assembly technique

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Abstract

Many diseases necessitate the substitution of vaginal tissues. Current replacement therapies are associated with many complications. In this study, we aimed to create bioengineered neovaginas with the self-assembly technique using autologous vaginal epithelial (VE) and vaginal stromal (VS) cells without the use of exogenous materials and to document the survival and incorporation of these grafts into the tissues of nude female mice. Epithelial and stromal cells were isolated from vaginal biopsies. Stromal cells were driven to form collagen sheets, 3 of which were superimposed to form vaginal stromas. VE cells were seeded on top of these stromas and allowed to mature in an air–liquid interface. The vaginal equivalents were implanted subcutaneously in female nude mice, which were sacrificed after 1 and 2 weeks after surgery. The in vitro and animal–retrieved equivalents were assessed using histologic, functional, and mechanical evaluations. Vaginal equivalents could be handled easily. VE cells formed a well-differentiated epithelial layer with a continuous basement membrane. The equivalent matrix was composed of collagen I and III and elastin. The epithelium, basement membrane, and stroma were comparable to those of native vaginal tissues. The implanted equivalents formed mature vaginal epithelium and matrix that were integrated into the mice tissues. Using the self-assembly technique, in vitro vaginal tissues were created with many functional and biological similarities to native vagina without any foreign material. They formed functional vaginal tissues after in vivo animal implantation. It is appropriate for vaginal substitution and disease modeling for infectious studies, vaginal applicants, and drug testing.

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