Towards rebuilding vaginal support utilizing an extracellular matrix bioscaffold

Rui Liang, Katrina Knight, Deanna Easley, Stacy Palcsey, Steven Abramowitch, Pamela A Moalli
Acta Biomaterialia 2017 July 15, 57: 324-333

As an alternative to polypropylene mesh, we explored an extracellular matrix (ECM) bioscaffold derived from urinary bladder matrix (MatriStem™) in the repair of vaginal prolapse. We aimed to restore disrupted vaginal support simulating application via transvaginal and transabdominal approaches in a macaque model focusing on the impact on vaginal structure, function, and the host immune response. In 16 macaques, after laparotomy, the uterosacral ligaments and paravaginal attachments to pelvic side wall were completely transected (IACUC# 13081928). 6-ply MatriStem was cut into posterior and anterior templates with a portion covering the vagina and arms simulating uterosacral ligaments and paravaginal attachments, respectively. After surgically exposing the correct anatomical sites, in 8 animals, a vaginal incision was made on the anterior and posterior vagina and the respective scaffolds were passed into the vagina via these incisions (transvaginal insertion) prior to placement. The remaining 8 animals underwent the same surgery without vaginal incisions (transabdominal insertion). Three months post implantation, firm tissue bands extending from vagina to pelvic side wall appeared in both MatriStem groups. Experimental endpoints examining impact of MatriStem on the vagina demonstrated that vaginal biochemical and biomechanical parameters, smooth muscle thickness and contractility, and immune responses were similar in the MatriStem no incision group and sham-operated controls. In the MatriStem incision group, a 41% decrease in vaginal stiffness (P=0.042), a 22% decrease in collagen content (P=0.008) and a 25% increase in collagen subtypes III/I was observed vs. Sham. Active MMP2 was increased in both Matristem groups vs. Sham (both P=0.002). This study presents a novel application of ECM bioscaffolds as a first step towards the rebuilding of vaginal support.

STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Pelvic organ prolapse is a common condition related to failure of the supportive soft tissues of the vagina; particularly at the apex and mid-vagina. Few studies have investigated methods to regenerate these failed structures. The overall goal of the study was to determine the feasibility of utilizing a regenerative bioscaffold in prolapse applications to restore apical (level I) and lateral (level II) support to the vagina without negatively impacting vaginal structure and function. The significance of our findings is two fold: 1. Implantation of properly constructed extracellular matrix grafts promoted rebuilding of level I and level II support to the vagina and did not negatively impact the overall functional, morphological and biochemical properties of the vagina. 2. The presence of vaginal incisions in the transvaginal insertion of bioscaffolds may compromise vaginal structural integrity in the short term.

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