Background & aims: The use of esophageal endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) to remove superficial esophageal neoplasms is gradually becoming more common in Japan. However, large-scale esophageal ESD often requires subsequent multiple balloon dilations to prevent postoperative esophageal stricture. We investigated the safety and efficacy of endoscopic transplantation of tissue-engineered autologous oral mucosal epithelial cell sheets in preventing formation of strictures after ESD.
Methods: We performed an open-label, single-arm, single-institute study. We collected specimens of oral mucosal tissue from 9 patients with superficial esophageal neoplasms. Epithelial cell sheets were fabricated ex vivo by culturing isolated cells for 16 days on temperature-responsive cell culture surfaces. After a reduction in temperature, these sheets were endoscopically transplanted directly to the ulcer surfaces of patients who had just undergone ESD. All patients were monitored by endoscopy once a week until epithelialization was complete.
Results: Autologous cell sheets were successfully transplanted to ulcer surfaces using an endoscope. Complete re-epithelialization occurred within a median time of 3.5 weeks. No patients experienced dysphagia, stricture, or other complications following the procedure, except for one patient who had a full circumferential ulceration that expanded to the esophagogastric junction.
Conclusions: Sutureless, endoscopic transplantation of carrier-free cell sheets composed of autologous oral mucosal epithelial cells safely and effectively promotes re-epithelialization of the esophagus after ESD. Patients in this study did not experience any serious complications. This procedure might be used to prevent stricture formation following ESD and improve patients' quality of life. Further study will be needed to show that stricture formation can be prevented.
Copyright © 2012 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.