Urethral replacement using cell seeded tubularized collagen matrices

Roger E. De Filippo, James J. Yoo, Anthony Atala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


Purpose: Acellular collagen matrices derived from bladder submucosa have been used successfully as an off-the-shelf biomaterial for urethral replacement, experimentally and clinically in an onlay fashion. We investigated whether collagen matrices, either alone or with autologous cells, could be used for tubularized urethral replacement. Materials and Methods: Acellular collagen matrices were processed and tubularized. Ten rabbits underwent an open bladder biopsy with subsequent cell expansion. Autologous bladder cells were grown and seeded onto the pre-configured tubular matrices. A 1 cm. long urethral segment was excised in 24 male rabbits. Urethroplasty was performed with the tubularized collagen matrices seeded with cells in 12 animals and without cells in 12. Serial urethrography was performed preoperatively and at 1, 2, 3 and 6 months postoperatively. Retrieved urethras were analyzed grossly, histologically, immunocytochemically and with Western blots. Contractility and the presence of neurotransmitter receptors were confirmed with organ bath studies. Results: Serial urethrography confirmed the maintenance of a wide urethral caliber without any signs of strictures in animals implanted with the cell seeded matrices. The urethral segments replaced with the collagen scaffolds without cells demonstrated strictures and graft collapse at all time points. The implanted cell seeded matrices had a normal urethral architecture by i 1 month, consisting of a transitional cell layer surrounded by muscle cell fiber bundles with increasing cellular organization with time. Epithelial and smooth muscle phenotypes were confirmed immunocytochemically and with Western blot analyses using pancytokeratins AE1/AE3 and smooth muscle specific α-actin antibodies. Formation of a transitional cell layer was confirmed in the matrices implanted without cells but only scant unorganized muscle fiber bundles were present, mostly at the anastomotic sites. Organ bath studies demonstrated the capacity for contractility along with cholinergic and adrenergic specific receptors in the tissue engineered scaffolds compared to controls. Conclusions: These results show that collagen matrices seeded with cells form normal urethral tissue can be used for tubularized replacement, whereas tubularized collagen matrices alone without cells lead to poor tissue formation and strictures. The collagen matrices seeded with cells may offer a useful alternative in the future for patients requiring a tubularized urethral segment replacement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1789-1793
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4 II
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Hypospadias, urethral stricture
  • Muscles, urothelium
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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