Objectives. To evaluate the capability of a human embryonic germ (hEG) cell-derived cell line (SDEC), previously characterized in our laboratory, seeded on porcine small intestinal submucosa (SIS) to regenerate the injured rat bladder. Methods. Fluorescent-labeled SDEC cells seeded on SIS for 8 days in vitro were used as bladder grafts in rats. A total of 30 congenitally athymic rats (six groups of 5 rats each), underwent partial cystectomy and replacement with plain SIS (groups 1 to 3) or cell-seeded SIS (groups 4 to 6). The rats were sacrificed after 7 (groups 1 and 4), 14 (groups 2 and 5), and 28 (groups 3 and 6) days. The bladders were analyzed by histopathologic examination and fluorescence microscopy. Results. No graft rejection or diminution in bladder capacity occurred. Plain SIS implants had multiple calcareous deposits, not seen with the cell-seeded implants. Macroscopically, at 7 days, the grafts were healed with a cellular lining on the luminal aspect in groups 4 to 6. Microscopically, the rat bladder was completely regenerated 28 days after stem cell-seeded SIS implantation. Labeled stem cells were identified throughout the graft and contributed significantly to bladder regeneration. Conclusions. The results of this study have demonstrated the successful replacement of a bladder defect in a rat model using hEG cell-derived cells seeded on SIS grafts. Longer term analysis of these bladder grafts will allow evaluation of function, cell migration, and differentiation processes of human stem cells.
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