Formation of urothelial structures in vivo from dissociated cells attached to biodegradable polymer scaffolds in vitro

A. Atala, J. P. Vacanti, Craig A Peters, J. Mandell, A. B. Retik, M. R. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

267 Scopus citations


The use of autologous urothelium would be advantageous for urothelial replacement in many genitourinary reconstructive procedures. Urothelial tissue grafts might be created using isolated populations of transitional epithelium or tissue in concert with an appropriate synthetic substrate. We describe the results of experiments designed to determine the feasibility of using biodegradable polymers as delivery vehicles for the creation of new urothelial structures in vivo from dissociated cells. Primary cultures enriched in uroepithelial cells were obtained from New Zealand white rabbits using a new technique of cell harvest. Cells were seeded onto nonwoven meshes of polyglycolic acid polymers in culture and, after 1 to 4 days in vitro, the cell-polymer scaffolds were implanted into the mesentery, omentum or retroperitoneum of athymic mice. Polymers implanted without cells served as controls. Animals were sacrificed at 5, 10, 20 and 30 days after implantation and 75 implants were examined histologically. Ten days after implantation isolated single cell layers were seen lining the polymer fibers. At 20 and 30 days polymer degradation was evident and urothelial cells lined the polymer in continuous layers of 1 to 3-cell thickness. Anticytokeratin western blots demonstrated the presence of a urothelium-associated cytokeratin in cell- polymer implants recovered after 30 days. These results demonstrate that urothelial cells can be successfully harvested, survive in culture and attach to artificial biodegradable polymers. The urothelial-polymer scaffolds can be implanted into host animals and the implanted cells can achieve spatial orientation as the polymer undergoes biodegradation. These findings suggest that it may be possible to use autologous urothelium, reconfigured on a synthetic substrate, in reconstructive procedures involving the ureter, bladder and urethra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-662
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992


  • bladder
  • implants, artificial
  • polyglycolic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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