Rats Receive Lab-Grown Esophagi

Researchers successfully transplant engineered esophagi into living rats.

Apr 16, 2014
Tracy Vence

After two weeks regeneration in vivo, the esophagus scaffold is covered by a multi-layered, keratinized epithelium.KAROLINSKA INSTITUTEAdd esophagus to the list of organs researchers have engineered in the lab and successfully transplanted into living mammals. A team led by investigators at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has created esophagi by seeding organ scaffolds with rat bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, and implanted the engineered organs in rats without needing to suppress the host immune system. The results were published in Nature Communications this week (April 15).

“We believe that these very promising findings represent major advances towards the clinical translation of tissue engineered esophagi,” study coauthor Paolo Macchiarini, who directs the Advanced Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine at the institute, said in a statement.

The team’s engineered esophagi included not only differentiated muscle cells, but also nerves and blood vessels, which are key to the survival of the implanted organs. (Stay tuned for a May feature on engineering vasculature along with synthetic organs.) “We were really surprised at the level of differentiation we got,” Macchiarini told Live Science.