Bio-artificial pleura using autologous dermal fibroblast sheets to mitigate air leaks during thoracoscopic lung resection

NPJ Regen Med. 2021 Jan 4;6(1):2. doi: 10.1038/s41536-020-00113-z.


Lung air leaks (LALs) due to visceral pleura injury during surgery are a difficult-to-avoid complication in thoracic surgery (TS). Reliable LAL closure is an important patient management issue after TS. We demonstrated both safeties of transplantation of a cultured human autologous dermal fibroblast sheet (DFS) to LALs. From May 2016 to March 2018, five patients who underwent thoracoscopic lung resection met all the inclusion criteria. Skin biopsies were acquired from each patient to source autologous dermal cells for DFS fabrication. During the primary culture, fibroblasts migrated from the dermal tissue pieces and proliferated to form cell monolayers. These fibroblasts were subcultured to confluence. Transplantable DFSs were fabricated from these subcultured fibroblasts that were trypsinized and seeded onto temperature-responsive culture dishes. After 10 days of fabrication culture, intact patient-specific DFS were harvested. DFSs were analyzed for fibroblast cell content and tissue contaminants prior to application. For closing intraoperative LAL, mean number of transplanted autologous DFS per patient was 6 ± 2 sheets. Mean chest drainage duration was 5.0 ± 4.8 days. The two patients with major LAL had a drainage duration of more than 7 days. All patients currently have no LAL recurrence after discharge. DFSs effectively maintain LAL closure via remodeling of the deposited extracellular matrix. The use of autologous DFSs to permanently close air leaks using a patient-derived source is expected to reduce surgical complications during high-risk lung resections.