Objectives: To investigate whether adipose-derived matrix seeded with adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC) can facilitate the repair of injured cavernous nerves (CNs). Methods: Human and rat adipose tissues were decellularized and fabricated into various forms, including adipose tissue-derived acellular matrix thread (ADMT). ADMT seeded with ADSC were transplanted into subcutaneous space and examined for signs of inflammation. ADSC-seeded ADMTs were then used to repair CN injury in rats, followed by assessment of histology and erectile function. Results: Adipose tissue can be fabricated into acellular matrices of various shapes and sizes, including threads and sheets. Seeding of ADMT occurred rapidly: within 24 hours, 55% of the surface was covered with ADSC and within 1 week, 90% was covered. Transplantation of the seeded ADMT into the subcutaneous space of an allogenic host showed no signs of inflammatory reaction. At 3 months after grafting into CN injury rats, approximately twice as many cells were found on seeded ADMT as on unseeded ADMT. The seeded ADMT also had various degrees of S100 and neuronal nitric oxide synthase expression, suggesting CN axonal ingrowth. Rats grafted with seeded ADMT overall had the best erectile function recovery when compared with those grafted with unseeded ADMT and those ungrafted. However, as a result of large variations, the differences did not reach statistic significance (P = .07). Conclusions: Grafting of ADSC-seeded matrix resulted in a substantial recovery of erectile function and improvement of histology. However, further refinement of the matrix architecture is needed to improve the success rate.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Department of Defense ( PC030775 to BK). MA has received research grants from the Belgische Vereniging voor Urologie , European Society of Surgical Oncology , Federico Foundation and Bayer Healthcare Belgium. MA is a fellow of the Research Foundation (FWO) Flanders.