Advanced Imaging Techniques for Investigation of Acellular Dermal Matrix Biointegration

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017 Feb;139(2):395-405. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000002992.


Background: Biointegration, a concept involving a dynamic interplay among three processes-inflammation, cellular infiltration, and angiogenesis-is key to understanding the interaction between acellular dermal matrices and the host. The current standard for evaluating acellular dermal matrix biointegration involves histologic analysis at fixed time points; however, the authors' approach uses advanced imaging techniques to serially assess biointegration in real time.

Methods: The authors have adapted two advanced imaging techniques-two-photon microscopy and photoacoustic microscopy-to investigate biointegration in a murine deepithelialized dorsal skin-fold window chamber model, specifically engineered to recapitulate the host microenvironment of acellular dermal matrix-assisted breast reconstruction. Four mice per group were assessed. Two-photon imaging of dual-transgenic mice allows for detection of fluorescently labeled perivascular cells, and macrophage lineage cells. Photoacoustic microscopy noninvasively assesses oxygen and hemoglobin concentration in living tissues, generating high-resolution, three-dimensional mapping of the nascent acellular dermal matrix-associated microvasculature and metabolic consumption of oxygen. These outcomes were corroborated by confirmatory histologic analysis at the terminal time point.

Results: The acellular dermal matrix/host interface is characterized by robust inflammation (0 to 3 days), increased oxygen consumption and neoangiogenesis in the matrix border zone (10 to 14 days), and vascular and inflammatory cell penetration into the center of the matrix (>21 days).

Conclusion: The data broaden the core knowledge of acellular dermal matrix biology, and serve as a potential template for elucidating the key differences among various commercially available and developmental products to guide the reconstructive surgeon to better select a reconstructive adjunct that meets their specific needs.

MeSH terms

  • Acellular Dermis*
  • Animals
  • Biological Phenomena
  • Inflammation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic*
  • Photoacoustic Techniques