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.