Study design, materials and methods
Multiparous sheep (n=30) which underwent quantification of pelvic organ prolapse using a modified POP-Q (Pelvic Organ Prolapse Quantification) were divided into 4 experimental and 1 incisional control group. Subtotal hysterectomy was performed via ventral midline laparotomy on 12 sheep to collect endometrial tissue. Ovine autologous eMSC were isolated from hysterectomy tissue utilizing cell sorting by flow cytometry of CD271+ ovine eMSCs, cell culture and eMSC labeling with FITC-labelled IODEX paramagnetic nanoparticles. Polyamide synthetic grafts were fabricated and used alone or with eMSC or were dip-coated in 12% porcine gelatin and stabilized with 0.5% glutaraldehyde for PA/G constructs; autologous labelled ovine eMSC-seeded PA/G constructs were also prepared.
Surgery consisted of a 40 mm, full-thickness midline incision on the posterior vaginal wall and eMSC/PA/G (n=6), PA/G (n=6), PA (n=12) were surgically implanted. A 2 step procedure occurred in the fourth group with eMSC in a gelatin hydrogel (eMSC/G) were applied to the 6 already implanted PA meshes (PA + eMSC/G) and the gelatin crosslinked in situ with blue light. No graft was placed for the incisional controls. After suturing the ewes were allowed to recover and were harvested 30 days post implantation. The analyses of explants included histology, collagen analysis using sirius red birefringence, image analysis of immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry stained tissues for macrophage markers. Biomechanical testing used the ball-burst test method.
All data were analysed using GraphPad Prism 7.02; Image analysis of histological data were assessed using a 1-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s multiple comparison post hoc test and biomechanical data was assessed using standard t-test. Kruskal-Wallis with Dunn’s multiple comparisons tests was used for non-parametric data.
Interpretation of results
This study demonstrated that the composition and design of tissue engineering constructs for delivering a cell-based therapy is critical for transvaginal repair surgery in a novel multiparous ovine model of POP. Unlike previous studies using multiparous ewes, we pre-selected sheep and experimental groups were matched on their POP-Q scores. In a 2-step procedure, PA mesh with excellent drapeability, implanted first with eMSC delivered subsequently in situ, integrates in a far superior manner than a composite mesh of PA/G. This approach is also translation friendly for surgeons and more practical for technicians preparing the cells. Implanted autologous eMSC persisted for 30 days in the vaginal wall near mesh filaments, influencing both the host immune response, ECM remodelling and fibrotic response.