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Eur J Histochem. 2018 Jan 22;62(1):2873. doi: 10.4081/ejh.2018.2873.

What happens to an acellular dermal matrix after implantation in the human body? A histological and electron microscopic study.

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Comenius University and University Hospital Bratislava, Department of Plastic Surgery.


Acellular matrices are used for various purposes and they have been studied extensively for their potential roles in regenerating tissues or organs. The acellular matrix generates physiological cues that mimic the native tissue microenvironment. Acellular dermal matrix (ADM) is a soft connective tissue graft generated by a decellularization process that preserves the intact extracellular skin matrix. Upon implantation, this structure serves as a scaffold for donor-side cells to facilitate subsequent incorporation and revascularization. In breast reconstruction, ADM is used mainly for lower pole coverage and the shaping of a new breast. It helps control the positioning of the implant in the inframammary fold, and prevent the formation of contractile pseudocapsule around the breast implant. In this study, we provide a comprehensive histological description of ADM used for human breast reconstruction over the course of several months following implementation. Using immunohistochemical methods (a panel of 12 antibodies) coupled with optical and transmission electron microscopy, we confirmed that the original acellular dermal matrix became recolonized by fibroblasts and myofibroblasts, and also by various other free cells of the connective tissue (lymphocytes, macrophages and multinucleated giant cells, granulocytes, mast cells) after implantation into the patient's body. Within the implanted ADM, there was a relatively rapid ingrowth of blood vessels. Lymphatic vessels were only detected in one case 9 months after the implantation of the ADM. These results suggest that lymphangiogenesis is a longer process than angiogenesis.


Acellular dermal matrix; breast reconstruction; histology.

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