Evaluation of human keratinocyte sheets transplanted onto porcine excised esophagus after submucosal dissection in an ex vivo model

Regen Ther. 2020 Dec 10:15:323-331. doi: 10.1016/j.reth.2020.11.004. eCollection 2020 Dec.


Background: The utility of endoscopic transplantation of epithelial cell sheets to ulcer sites after endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) has been shown to prevent scar stenosis after ESD of early esophageal cancer. Previously, our group reported use of an endoscopic transplantation device fabricated with a 3-dimensional printer. Cell sheets are transplanted to the esophageal wound site with the following procedure: first, a cell sheet harvested from temperature-responsive culture dishes is placed on the device's deflated balloon surface and transported to the wound site with endoscopic forceps; second, by applying pressure from inflating the balloon locally at the wound site, the cell sheet is successfully transferred and adhered to the wound tissue; third, the balloon is deflated, and the device is removed. By repeating the procedure, several cell sheets can be safely transplanted to a wider ESD area. Nonetheless, possible damage to cell sheets using this procedure has not yet been assessed.

Objective: Effects of endoscopic transplantation balloon inflation on cell viability and damage of normal human epidermal keratinocyte sheets resident on the device's balloon surface were evaluated by histology after sheet placement onto lumenal surfaces in the ex vivo porcine submucosal dissection esophagus model. Endoscopic transplantation of these same cell sheets with conventional methods using a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) cell sheet support membrane, balloon device transfer, and also using a novel modified balloon transfer procedure was also examined. Cell sheet transfer results obtained with these three procedures were compared.

Method: Normal human epidermal keratinocyte sheets were fabricated on temperature-responsive culture inserts. By temperature reduction to 20 °C, all cells were harvested as a single contiguous cell sheet. Freshly excised porcine esophagi purchased in a slaughter house were turned inside-out, and the exposed lumenal mucosa and submucosal layers were removed by Cooper scissors. This luminal surface was then utilized as a transplantation bed in ex vivo cell sheet experiments. Cell sheets were adhered to the endoscopic transfer device balloon, expanded by balloon inflation and resulting cell viability was evaluated by trypan blue exclusion test after cell sheet trypsinization and dispersion. Cell sheets were transferred onto the esophagus lumen ex vivo using forceps and the balloon device, and also using a modified balloon transfer method. The obtained results were compared with those without balloon expansion, and evaluated for sheet thickness and lumenal histology. Finally, TUNEL staining was performed to examine cell apoptosis.

Result: Cell sheets thinned after cell sheet balloon expansion, but no apoptosis was observed after these procedures.

Conclusion: Expanding keratinocyte cell sheets on a balloon endoscopic transfer device did not damage the cell sheets. This sheet transplantation method using the endoscopic balloon transfer device may be considered as a future standard cell sheet endoscopic transplantation procedure for repairing the esophagus.

Keywords: Cell sheet technology; Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD); Endoscopic transplantation; Esophageal stricture; Regenerative medicine.