Tubular Compressed Collagen Scaffolds for Ureteral Tissue Engineering in a Flow Bioreactor System
Ureteral replacement by tissue engineering might become necessary following tissue loss after excessive ureteral trauma, after retroperitoneal cancer, or even after failed reconstructive surgery. This need has driven innovation in the design of novel scaffolds and specific cell culture techniques for urinary tract reconstruction. In this study, compressed tubular collagen scaffolds were evaluated, addressing the physical and biological characterization of acellular and cellular collagen tubes in a new flow bioreactor system, imitating the physiological pressure, peristalsis, and flow conditions of the human ureter. Collagen tubes, containing primary human smooth muscle and urothelial cells, were evaluated regarding their change in gene and protein expression under dynamic culture conditions. A maximum intraluminal pressure of 22.43 +/- 0.2 cmH(2)O was observed in acellular tubes, resulting in a mean wall shear stress of 4 dynes/cm(2) in the tubular constructs. Dynamic conditions directed the differentiation of both cell types into their mature forms. This was confirmed by their gene expression of smooth muscle alpha-actin, smoothelin, collagen type I and III, elastin, laminin type 1 and 5, cytokeratin 8, and uroplakin 2. In addition, smooth muscle cell alignment predominantly perpendicular to the flow direction was observed, comparable to the cell orientation in native ureteral tissue. These results revealed that coculturing human smooth muscle and urothelial cells in compressed collagen tubes under human ureteral flow-mimicking conditions could lead to cell-engineered biomaterials that might ultimately be translated into clinical applications.