Background. Our laboratory is investigating the tissue engineering of small intestine using intestinal epithelial organoid units seeded onto highly porous biodegradable polymer matrices. This study investigated the effects of anastomosis of tissue-engineered intestine to native small bowel alone or combined with small bowel resection on neointestinal regeneration. Methods. Intestinal epithelial organoid units harvested from neonatal Lewis rats were seeded onto biodegradable polymer tubes and implanted into the omentum of adult Lewis rats as follows: (1) implantation alone (n = 9); (2) implantation followed by anastomosis to native small bowel at 3 weeks (n = 11); and (3) implantation after small bowel resection and anastomosis to native small bowel at 3 weeks (n = 8). All constructs were harvested at 10 weeks and examined by histology. Morphometric analysis of the neomucosa was obtained using a computer image analysis program. Results. Cyst development was noted in all animals. All anastomoses were patent at 10 weeks. Histology revealed the development of a vascularized tissue with a neomucosa lining the lumen of the cyst with invaginations resembling crypt-villus structures. Morphometric analysis demonstrated significantly greater villus number, villus height, crypt number, crypt area, and mucosal surface length in groups 2 and 3 compared with group 1, and significantly greater villus number, villus height, crypt area, and mucosal surface length in group 3 compared with group 2 (P < 0.05, ANOVA, Tukey test). Conclusion. Intestinal epithelial organoid units transplanted on biodegradable polymer tubes can regenerate into complex tissue resembling small intestine. Anastomosis to native small bowel combined with small bowel resection and anastomosis alone contribute significant regenerative stimuli for the morphogenesis and differentiation of tissue- engineered neointestine.
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