Background: Porcine small intestinal submucosa (SIS) is an acellular, naturally derived extracellular matrix (ECM) that has been used for tissue remodeling and repair in numerous xenotransplantations. Although a vigorous immune response to xenogeneic extracellular matrix biomaterials is expected, to date there has been evidence for only normal tissue regeneration without any accompanying rejection. The purpose of this study was to determine the reason for a lack of rejection.
Methods: Mice were implanted s.c. with xenogeneic tissue, syngeneic tissue, or SIS, and the graft site analyzed histologically for rejection or acceptance. Additionally, graft site cytokine levels were determined by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and SIS-specific serum antibody isotype levels were determined by ELISA.
Results: Xenogeneically implanted mice showed an acute inflammatory response followed by chronic inflammation and ultimately graft necrosis, consistent with rejection. Syngeneically or SIS implanted mice, however, showed an acute inflammatory response that diminished such that the graft ultimately became indistinguishable from native tissue, observations that are consistent with graft acceptance. Graft site cytokine analysis showed an increase in interleukin-4 and an absence of interferon-gamma. In addition, mice implanted with SIS produced a SIS-specific antibody response that was restricted to the IgG1 isotype. Reimplantation of SIS into mice led to a secondary anti-SIS antibody response that was still restricted to IgG1. Similar results were observed with porcine submucosa derived from urinary bladder. To determine if the observed immune responses were T cell dependent, T cell KO mice were implanted with SIS. These mice expressed neither interleukin-4 at the implant site nor anti-SIS-specific serum antibodies but they did accept the SIS graft.
Conclusions: Porcine extracellular matrix elicits an immune response that is predominately Th2-like, consistent with a remodeling reaction rather than rejection.