This study investigated the potential of the decellularized human umbilical vein (HUV) as an allogeneic, acellular extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffold for engineering the vocal fold lamina propria in vitro. HUV specimens with Wharton's jelly on the abluminal surface were uniformly dissected from native umbilical cords using an automated procedure and subjected to a novel saline-based decellularization treatment for removal of potentially antigenic epitopes. Human vocal fold fibroblasts from primary culture were seeded onto the resulting acellular constructs and cultured for 21 days. The structures of decellularized and fibroblast-repopulated HUV constructs and the attachment, proliferation, and infiltration of fibroblasts were examined with light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Changes in the relative densities of collagen in the constructs associated with decellularization and recellularization were quantified using digital image analysis. In addition, fibroblasts infiltrating the scaffolds were released by cell recovery and quantified by counting. Viscoelastic properties of the scaffolds were measured using a linear, simple-shear rheometer at phonatory frequencies. Results showed that an acellular ECM construct with an intact three-dimensional structure of Wharton's jelly was fabricated. Vocal fold fibroblasts readily attached on the abluminal surface of the construct with high viability, with significant cellular infiltration up to approximately 600 μm deep into the construct. A significant increase in collagen expression was observed with recellularization. The elastic modulus and dynamic viscosity of the fibroblast-repopulated scaffolds were comparable to those of the human vocal fold lamina propria. These findings supported the potential of the construct as a possible surgical allograft for vocal fold restoration and reconstruction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering