Chronic inflammatory gastric reflux alters the esophageal microenvironment and induces metaplastic transformation of the epithelium, a precancerous condition termed Barrett's esophagus (BE). The microenvironmental niche, which includes the extracellular matrix (ECM), substantially influences cell phenotype. ECM harvested from normal porcine esophageal mucosa (eECM) was formulated as a mucoadhesive hydrogel, and shown to largely retain basement membrane and matrix-cell adhesion proteins. Dogs with BE were treated orally with eECM hydrogel and omeprazole (n = 6) or omeprazole alone (n = 2) for 30 days. eECM treatment resolved esophagitis, reverted metaplasia to a normal, squamous epithelium in four of six animals, and downregulated the pro-inflammatory tumor necrosis factor-α+ cell infiltrate compared to control animals. The metaplastic tissue in control animals (n = 2) did not regress. The results suggest that in vivo alteration of the microenvironment with a site-appropriate, mucoadhesive ECM hydrogel can mitigate the inflammatory and metaplastic response in a dog model of BE.
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