Recently, decellularized tissue has been reported to have the potential to regenerate a variety of tissues. However, the optimal protocol for a decellularized esophagus has not been studied. Here, we investigated the effect of different decellularization protocols on the histology and biocompatibility of decellularized esophagi in view of future applications to tissue engineering. The esophageal mucosal epithelium (EP) from 4-week-old Wistar rats was enzymatically dissociated and cultured with growth-arrested feeder cells. Two methods for decellularization using deoxycholic acid (DEOX) or Triton X-100 (TRITON) were compared on esophagi from adult Wistar rats. Those treated with DEOX showed superior mechanical properties, maintenance of extracellular matrix, and lower DNA content than those treated with TRITON. To evaluate the biocompatibility of the scaffold, cultured (passage 3) esophageal epithelial cells were seeded inside the decellularized esophagus and cultured for 7 days. The cells seeded onto the decellularized esophagus were examined histologically and immunocytochemically. Esophageal epithelial cells were stratified into three to four cellular layers in vitro inside the decellularized esophagus, to show polarity. The results from immunocytochemistry indicated that the seeded epithelial cells expressed characteristic marker proteins for native esophageal EP. Decellularized esophagus showed suitable compatibility as a scaffold material for esophageal tissue engineering.
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