Research press release


Nature Biotechnology

Biotechnology: Bioengineered scaffold repairs uterus and supports live births in rabbits

ウサギの子宮の損傷を、そのウサギ自身の細胞を使った組織工学手法で修復したところ、10羽のうち4羽が正常に妊娠し、生仔を出産したことを報告する論文が、Nature Biotechnology に掲載される。この方法は将来的に、子宮が原因の不妊に悩む女性に重要な意味を持つ可能性がある。


今回Anthony Atalaたちは、78羽のウサギの損傷した子宮に、生分解性ポリマーの足場(マトリックス中にウサギ自身の子宮細胞を入れたものと、入れていないもの)を移植した。これらの子宮を1、3、6か月後に調べたところ、足場自体は移植の3か月後には分解されていた。移植後6か月後までに、本来の組織と生物工学による組織との間に、明らかな違いは認められなくなった。子宮細胞を植えた足場を移植したウサギ10羽のうち4羽は正常に妊娠・出産したが、細胞を植えない足場を移植した10羽では、1羽も妊娠が認められなかった。


Four out of ten rabbits had normal pregnancies and live births after their injured uteri were repaired by a method of tissue engineering using the rabbits’ own cells, according to a paper published in Nature Biotechnology. This approach may have potential implications for women affected by uterine infertility in the future.

Approximately six percent of women undergoing infertility treatment have dysfunction of the uterus. Uterine transplantation from live or deceased donors has successfully enabled live births in humans, but the lack of donor organs and the need for immunosuppressive drug regimens to support the transplanted uterus limit its use. Bioengineering approaches have been shown to repair small uterine defects in rodents, but live birth in these or larger animals had not yet been achieved.

Anthony Atala and colleagues implanted biodegradable polymer scaffolds — some with the rabbits’ own uterine cells inserted within the matrix and some without — into the damaged uteri of 78 rabbits. The rabbits’ uteri were examined at one, three and six months. The authors observed that the scaffolds had degraded three months after implantation. By six months after implantation, the authors observed no obvious differences between the engineered and native tissues. Four of the ten rabbits that received scaffolds seeded with uterine cells had normal pregnancies to term, but none of the ten rabbits that received unseeded scaffolds did.

Similar tissue-engineered scaffolds have been successfully used to repair other tubular tissues in humans — including the vagina, urethra and bladder — and the approach described in this study may also translate to humans. However, the authors note that not all animals had successful pregnancies, and further animal studies are needed before this method can be tested in humans.

doi: 10.1038/s41587-020-0547-7


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