Regeneration of a Bioengineered Thyroid Using Decellularized Thyroid Matrix

Thyroid. 2019 Jan;29(1):142-152. doi: 10.1089/thy.2018.0068. Epub 2018 Dec 18.


Background: Hypothyroidism is a common hormone deficiency condition. Regenerative medicine approaches, such as a bioengineered thyroid, have been proposed as potential therapeutic alternatives for patients with hypothyroidism. This study demonstrates a novel approach to generate thyroid grafts using decellularized rat thyroid matrix.

Methods: Isolated rat thyroid glands were perfused with 1% sodium dodecyl sulfate to generate a decellularized thyroid scaffold. The rat thyroid scaffold was then recellularized with rat thyroid cell line to reconstruct the thyroid by perfusion seeding technique. As a pilot study, the decellularized rat thyroid scaffold was perfused with human-derived thyrocytes and parathyroid cells.

Results: The decellularization process retained the intricate three-dimensional microarchitecture with a perfusable vascular network and native extracellular matrix components, allowing efficient reseeding of the thyroid matrix with the FRTL-5 rat thyroid cell line generating three-dimensional follicular structures in vitro. In addition, the recellularized thyroid showed successful cellular engraftment and thyroid-specific function, including synthesis of thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase. Moreover, the decellularized rat thyroid scaffold could further be recellularized with human-derived thyroid cells and parathyroid cells to reconstruct a humanized bioartificial endocrine organ, which maintained expression of critical genes such as thyroglobulin, thyroid peroxidase, and parathyroid hormone.

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate the utility of a decellularized thyroid extracellular matrix scaffold system for the development of functional, bioengineered thyroid tissue, which could potentially be used to treat hypothyroidism.

Keywords: extracellular matrix scaffold; hypothyroidism; organ decellularization; parathyrocytes; thyrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Hypothyroidism / pathology*
  • Hypothyroidism / therapy*
  • Rats
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Thyroid Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Thyroid Gland / cytology*
  • Tissue Engineering*