Advertisement

Impact of prolapse meshes on the metabolism of vaginal extracellular matrix in rhesus macaque

Published:August 12, 2014DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2014.08.008

      Objective

      The impact of polypropylene mesh implantation on vaginal collagen and elastin metabolism was analyzed using a nonhuman primate model to further delineate the mechanism of mesh induced complications.

      Study Design

      Forty-nine middle-aged parous rhesus macaques underwent surgical implantation of 3 synthetic meshes via sacrocolpopexy. Gynemesh PS (n = 12) (Ethicon, Somerville, NJ) and 2 lower-weight, higher-porosity, lower-stiffness meshes (UltraPro [n = 19] [Ethicon] and Restorelle [n = 8] [Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN]) were implanted, in which UltraPro was implanted with its blue orientation lines perpendicular (low stiffness direction, n = 11) and parallel (high stiffness direction, n = 8) to the longitudinal axis of the vagina. Sham-operated animals were used as controls (n = 10). Twelve weeks after surgery, the mesh-tissue complex was excised and analyzed.

      Results

      Relative to sham, Gynemesh PS had a negative impact on the metabolism of both collagen and elastin—favoring catabolic reactions, whereas UltraPro induced an increase only in elastin degradation. Restorelle had the least impact. As compared with sham, the degradation of collagen and elastin in the vagina implanted with Gynemesh PS was increased with a simultaneous increase in active matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, -8, -13, and total MMP-2 and -9 (all P < .05). The degradation of elastin (tropoelastin and mature elastin) was increased in the UltraPro-implanted vagina with a concomitant increase of MMP-2, and -9 (all P < .05). Collagen subtype ratio III/I was increased in Gynemesh PS and UltraPro perpendicular groups (P < .05).

      Conclusion

      Following implantation with the heavier, less porous, and stiffer mesh, Gynemesh PS, the degradation of vaginal collagen and elastin exceeded synthesis, most likely as a result of increased activity of MMPs, resulting in a structurally compromised tissue.

      Key words

      Lightweight polypropylene mesh has been widely used in the surgical repair of pelvic organ prolapse to improve anatomical outcomes.
      • Iglesia C.B.
      • Fenner D.E.
      • Brubaker L.
      The use of mesh in gynecologic surgery.
      • Jonsson Funk M.
      • Edenfield A.L.
      • Pate V.
      • Visco A.G.
      • Weidner A.C.
      • Wu J.M.
      Trends in use of surgical mesh for pelvic organ prolapse.
      However, mesh-related complications including mesh exposure through the vaginal wall and erosion into adjacent structures, pain, and infection have raised concerns, prompting the Food and Drug Administration to issue 2 public health notifications warning of complications related to prolapse mesh and calling for mechanistic studies.
      American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
      Vaginal placement of synthetic mesh for pelvic organ prolapse. ACOG Committee Opinion no. 513.
      • Maher C.
      • Feiner B.
      • Baessler K.
      • Schmid C.
      Surgical management of pelvic organ prolapse in women.
      • Nygaard I.
      • Brubaker L.
      • Zyczynski H.M.
      • et al.
      Long-term outcomes following abdominal sacrocolpopexy for pelvic organ prolapse.
      To date, the impact of mesh on the vagina has not yet been clearly defined, and the mechanism by which mesh complications occur remains unknown. In a well-controlled nonhuman primate sacrocolpopexy model, heavier weight meshes with lower porosity, and higher stiffness were shown to have a profoundly negative impact on the vagina including a decrease in the amount of collagen, elastin, and smooth muscle.
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      The resulting thinner and biomechanically inferior vagina seemed a perfect scenario for the development of mesh exposure, a process in which mesh becomes visible through the vaginal epithelium. Because collagen and elastin are key structural proteins that maintain the mechanical and structural integrity of the vagina, their content and stability are likely critical factors in the pathogenesis of mesh exposures.
      In this study, we aimed to define alterations in collagen and elastin metabolism following the implantation of synthetic meshes varying by weight, porosity, and stiffness. We hypothesized that heavier, less porous, and stiffer meshes would be associated with increased collagen and elastin degradation characterized by increased matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and an increased ratio of collagen subtypes III/I.
      To test this hypothesis, we compared the impact of 3 distinct polypropylene meshes with varying textile and structural properties: the heavier, less porous and stiffer prolapse mesh (Gynemesh PS; Ethicon, Somerville, NJ) vs 2 lighter, more porous, and less stiff meshes with (Ultrapro; Ethicon) and without (Restorelle; Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN) an absorbable component: poliglecaprone 25. Meshes were implanted via sacrocolpopexy in the rhesus macaque. Because UltraPro is highly anisotropic,
      • Feola A.
      • Barone W.
      • Moalli P.
      • Abramowitch S.
      Characterizing the ex vivo textile and structural properties of synthetic prolapse mesh products.
      • Ozog Y.
      • Konstantinovic M.
      • Werbrouck E.
      • De Ridder D.
      • Mazza E.
      • Deprest J.
      Persistence of polypropylene mesh anisotropy after implantation: an experimental study.
      it was implanted with its blue orientation lines perpendicular (low stiffness direction) and parallel (high stiffness direction) to the longitudinal axis of the vagina. The production and degradation of collagen and elastin, the collagen subtype III/I ratio, and the levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-8, MMP-9, and MMP-13 were examined.

      Materials and Methods

      Mesh

      Sterile samples of Gynemesh PS, UltraPro, and Restorelle were obtained. Their structural properties were described previously.
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      • Feola A.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Jallah Z.
      • et al.
      Deterioration in biomechanical properties of the vagina following implantation of a high-stiffness prolapse mesh.

      Animals

      Animal groups in the current study were the same as those in a previous study
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      except that a new animal was added to the UltraPro Perpendicular group. Parous middle-aged, nonhuman primates (rhesus macaques) were maintained and treated according to protocols approved by the Institutional Animal Care Use Committee of the University of Pittsburgh (no. 1008675) and in adherence to the National Institutes of Health Guidelines (Washington, DC) for the use of laboratory animals.

      Surgical procedures

      Two animals were excluded from the study at the time of surgery, the first because of a large mass in her right leg and enlarged pelvic lymph nodes and a second with stage IV endometriosis. In the end, a total of 49 animals were used. Thirty-nine animals were implanted with mesh via sacrocolpopexy after hysterectomy
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      : Gynemesh PS (n = 12), UltraPro Perpendicular (n = 11), UltraPro Parallel (n = 8), and Restorelle (n = 8). Ten animals underwent the identical surgery (sham) without insertion of mesh (n = 10). Twelve weeks later, the mesh-tissue complex was harvested en toto, and the epithelium was carefully removed prior to biochemical analyses.

      Western blot: precursors of collagen I, and III

      Following extraction using a high salt buffer (pH 7.5), the total protein concentration was determined in duplicate (DC protein assay; Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, CA). Proteins at 10 μg/well were separated on 8% polyacrylamide gels and examined by standard procedures of Western blot. Precision plus Protein WesternC standards (Bio-Rad Laboratories) were used to indicate the molecular weight.
      Primary antibodies included COL1A1 1:400 (L-19, goat polyclonal; Santa Cruz Biotechnology Inc, Santa Cruz, CA) and COL3A1 1:200 (C-15, goat polyclonal; Santa Cruz Biotechnology). Signal intensity of bands was quantitated via UN-SCAN-IT (version 4.3; Silk Scientific Co, Orem, UT). The blotted membranes were stained with Coomassie Blue, and the protein bands were quantified to represent the loading control for each well.
      Protein amounts were expressed as arbitrary units, relative to the loading control and an internal positive control (protein extracts from a human prolapsed vagina) that was loaded in duplicate on each gel.

      Western blot: tropoelastin and tropoelastin degradation

      Tropoelastin monoclonal antibody at 1:200 (BA-4, mouse; Abcam, Cambridge, MA) and polyclonal antibody at 1:400 (ab21605, rabbit; Abcam) were used to detect tropoelastin at approximately 60 kDa (monoclonal) and tropoelastin degradation products (series of bands <50 kDa), respectively. To reduce the amount of nonspecific binding by the polyclonal antibody, we did the following: (1) established optimal binding conditions utilizing a progressive series of dilutions of the primary antibody and (2) confirmed the absence of nonspecific binding by the secondary antibody by performing parallel blots in which the primary antibody was eliminated.

      Western blot: MMP-1, MMP-8, and MMP-13

      The primary antibodies including MMP-1 at 1:200 (41-1E5, mouse monoclonal, recognizing both latent and active forms; EMD Millipore, Temecula, CA), MMP-8 at 1:400 (115-13D2, mouse monoclonal, recognizing both latent and active forms, EMD Millipore), and MMP-13 at 1:200 (VIIIA2, mouse monoclonal recognizing both proenzyme and active forms; EMD Millipore) were used. The band detection and quantification were similar to the procedures described above.

      Gelatin zymography for MMP-2 and MMP-9

      The level of elastin degrading enzymes, MMP-2 and -9, was evaluated via substrate zymography by using 30 μg protein per sample as described.
      • Moalli P.A.
      • Shand S.H.
      • Zyczynski H.M.
      • Gordy S.C.
      • Meyn L.A.
      Remodeling of vaginal connective tissue in patients with prolapse.

      Interrupted sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis for collagen subtypes

      After protein extraction, the salt-insoluble tissue pellets were used to determine the ratio of collagen subtypes III/I.
      • Niyibizi C.
      • Kavalkovich K.
      • Yamaji T.
      • Woo S.L.
      Type V collagen is increased during rabbit medial collateral ligament healing.
      • Sykes B.
      • Puddle B.
      • Francis M.
      • Smith R.
      The estimation of two collagens from human dermis by interrupted gel electrophoresis.
      Following pepsin digestion, samples were isolated on 6% gels by interrupted sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Purified collagen type I and III (Abcam) and protein standards (prestained SDS-PAGE standards high range; Bio-Rad Laboratories) were also run on the gels to indicate molecular weight. Semiquantification of collagen bands was performed by the densitometric scanning of protein bands corresponding to α1(I) and α1(III) chains on an imaging densitometer (Bio-Rad Laboratories). The relative collagen subtype III/I ratio was determined as α1(III) ×2/α1(I) ×3.

      Assay for degradation products of collagen: NTx

      Peptides less than 30 kDa were isolated using centrifugal filter units (Amicon Ultra, 30,000 MWCO; Millipore, Billerica, MA). The total amounts of cross-linked N-telopeptides (NTx) including those derived from completely degraded collagen (end degradation products) and those from intermediate collagen degradation fragments (intermediate degradation products) were measured using a standard NTx assay (Osteomark NTx, Princeton, NJ). The values were calculated using a 4-parameter standard curve and expressed as nanomoles per gram protein normalized to collagen content.
      The samples were first digested with bacterial collagenase (type I, 2 mg/mL; Worthington Biochemical Corporation, Lakewood, NJ) to degrade the intermediate collagen fragments prior to assaying for the total NTx. The amount of intermediate degradation products was estimated by subtracting the amount of NTx in the end products from total NTx.

      Assays for degradation products of mature elastin

      The amount of desmosine, a cross-link that is characteristic of mature elastin, was measured in the peptide solution less than 30 kDa via a desmosine cross-link radioimmunoassay (crosslinks per total protein) as previously described.
      • Starcher B.
      • Conrad M.
      A role for neutrophil elastase in the progression of solar elastosis.

      Statistical analysis

      SPSS software (14.0 student version for Windows; SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL) was used for statistical analyses. For normally distributed data, a 1-way analysis of variance was used, followed by the appropriate post-hoc tests including Dunnett for comparison with sham and pair-wise test using the Bonferroni multiple comparison procedure between all groups. For nonparametric data, a Kruskal-Wallis test was used.

      Results

      Animals had similar age, parity, weight, and Pelvic Organ Prolapse Quantification scores except that the animals in the Restorelle group were heavier (Table).
      TableDemographics of nonhuman primates in the study
      GroupsAge, y
      Mean ± SD
      Parity
      Median (first quartile, third quartile)
      Weight, kg
      Mean ± SD
      POP-Q stage
      Median (first quartile, third quartile)
      Sham13.3 ± 2.63.5 (2, 6)7.5 ± 1.30 (0, 1)
      Gynemesh12.3 ± 2.44 (2, 5)7.9 ± 1.60 (0, 0)
      UltraPro Per12.0 ± 2.52 (1.5, 4.5)7.4 ± 1.30 (0, 1)
      UltraPro Par12.9 ± 1.04 (4, 5.5)8.4 ± 1.30 (0, 0)
      Restorelle13.8 ± 1.75 (3, 5.3)10.0 ± 2.81 (0, 1)
      P value
      Comparison of overall P value among the groups.
      .43.66.02.30
      Gynemesh PS; Ethicon, Somerville, NJ. UltraPro; Ethicon. Restorelle; Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN.
      POP-Q, Pelvic Organ Prolapse Quantification; UltraPro Par, UltraPro Parallel (high stiffness); UltraPro Per, UltraPro Perpendicular (low stiffness).
      Liang. Impact of prolapse meshes on the vaginal extracellular matrix. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2015.
      a Mean ± SD
      b Median (first quartile, third quartile)
      c Comparison of overall P value among the groups.

      Synthesis of precursors of collagen and elastin

      Two bands at approximately 140 kDa and approximately 200 kDa were detected, representing the precursors of collagen Iα1 (Figure 1, A). The lower bands (approximately 140 kDa) likely represent soluble collagen I α1 chains prior to cross-linking and incorporation into mature collagen fibrils. Collagen I precursors were significantly increased in all mesh groups relative to sham, with an increase of 66%, 63%, 46%, and 43% in Gynemesh PS (P = .014), UltraPro Perpendicular (P = .023), UltraPro Parallel (P = .026), and Restorelle (P = .018), respectively. No difference was found between the 2 UltraPro groups (P = .57).
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Synthesis of precursors of collagen I and III and tropoelastin in the vagina after mesh implantation
      Representative images from Western blots and bar graphs showing compiled mean (normalized to the values of internal control and loading control) and SD for the following: A, collagen I precursor; B, collagen III precursor; C, tropoelastin. Asterisk indicates a significant difference from sham (P < .05).
      Gynemesh PS; Ethicon, Somerville, NJ. UltraPro; Ethicon. Restorelle; Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN.
      GM, Gynemesh PS; LC, loading control; R, Restorelle; S, sham; UP⊥, UltraPro Perpendicular; UP//, UltraPro Parallel.
      Liang. Impact of prolapse meshes on the vaginal extracellular matrix. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2015.
      For precursors of collagen type III, a single band representing collagen III α1 chains was detected at approximately 160 kDa. As shown in Figure 1, B, collagen III precursors increased 26% with Gynemesh PS (P = .03) and 29% with UltraPro Perpendicular (P = .005), whereas no differences were found relative to sham in the other mesh groups (all P > .05). Collagen III precursors were 45% higher in the UltraPro Perpendicular than the UltraPro Parallel group (P = .004). Bands for tropoelastin were detected at approximately 60 kDa (Figure 1, C) with no significant differences found between the mesh groups and sham (all P > .05).

      Collagen subtype III/I ratio in salt-insoluble collagen

      As shown in Figure 2, relative to sham (0.20 ± 0.05), the ratio of collagen subtype III/I was 66% higher in Gynemesh PS (0.33 ± 0.04, P < .001) and 55% higher in UltraPro Perpendicular (0.31 ± 0.06, P < .001). No statistical difference was found in UltraPro Parallel (0.24 ± 0.06, P = .08) and Restorelle (0.25 ± 0.09, P = .17) relative to sham. Comparison between the 2 UltraPro groups showed that the ratio was 26% higher in the perpendicular orientation than that in the parallel orientation (P = .03).
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Vaginal collagen subtype ratios after mesh implantation
      A, Representative SDS-PAGE gel; B, Bar graph showing mean and SD. Asterisk indicates a significant difference from sham (P < .05).
      Gynemesh PS; Ethicon, Somerville, NJ. UltraPro; Ethicon. Restorelle; Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN.
      GM, Gynemesh PS; R, Restorelle; S, sham; SDS-PAGE, sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; UP⊥, UltraPro Perpendicular; UP//, UltraPro Parallel.
      Liang. Impact of prolapse meshes on the vaginal extracellular matrix. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2015.

      Collagen degradation

      NTx, a marker of mature collagen degradation, was assayed for both end products and intermediate products as a measurement of total collagen breakdown. As shown in Figure 3, consistent with our previous finding demonstrating a decrease in vaginal collagen content following the implantation of Gynemesh PS,
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      the total collagen degradation was increased by 62% in the Gynemesh PS group relative to sham (P = .007). The other mesh groups were not statistically different from sham (all P > .05). In addition, the intermediate degradation products were increased by 89% in the Gynemesh PS group (P = .008) relative to sham, whereas no significant increase was found in the other groups. The collagen degradation was not different between the 2 UltraPro groups (P = .513 and P = .909).
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3Collagen degradation in the vagina after mesh implantation
      Collagen degradation in the vagina after mesh implantation as measured by the amount of NTx in end degradation products and in intermediate degradation products. Asterisk indicates a significant difference from sham (P < .05).
      Gynemesh PS; Ethicon, Somerville, NJ. UltraPro; Ethicon. Restorelle; Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN.
      GM, Gynemesh PS; NTx, N-telopeptidase; R, Restorelle; S, sham; UP⊥, UltraPro Perpendicular; UP//, UltraPro Parallel.
      Liang. Impact of prolapse meshes on the vaginal extracellular matrix. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2015.

      Elastin degradation

      Previously we showed that mature elastin was decreased following implantation with Gynemesh PS and UltraPro (independent of the direction of implantation), but did not change with Restorelle.
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      To determine whether elastin degradation was accounting for these results, we measured both tropoelastin degradation and mature elastin degradation (Figure 4, A). Mature elastin degradation products are identifiable by their desmosine cross-links.
      Figure thumbnail gr4
      Figure 4Elastin degradation in the vagina after mesh implantation
      A, Flow chart elucidates the degradation pathways of elastin. B, Representative Western blot image for tropoelastin degradation. C, Bar graph showing the mean and SD of tropoelastin degradation by semiquantification. D, Box and whisker graph showing the median and first and third quartiles of mature elastin degradation assayed by desmosine cross-link radioimmunoassay. Asterisk indicates a significant difference from sham (P < .05).
      Gynemesh PS; Ethicon, Somerville, NJ. UltraPro; Ethicon. Restorelle; Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN.
      GM, Gynemesh PS; R, Restorelle; S, sham; UP⊥, UltraPro Perpendicular; UP//, UltraPro Parallel.
      Liang. Impact of prolapse meshes on the vaginal extracellular matrix. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2015.
      Tropoelastin degradation was increased in all mesh groups relative to sham, with the highest degradation in the Gynemesh PS group (119%, P = .007), followed by UltraPro Parallel (93%, P = .015), Restorelle (77%, P = .042), and UltraPro Perpendicular (71%, P = .009) (Figure 4, B and C). Mature elastin degradation was increased in Gynemesh PS, UltraPro Perpendicular, and UltraPro Parallel relative to sham by an average increase of 76% (P = .049), 136% (P = .006), and 98% (P = .025), respectively, but not in the Restorelle group (P = .589) (Figure 4, D). Elastin degradation in both the tropoelastin and mature elastin pathways was not different between the UltraPro Perpendicular and Parallel groups (P = .615 and P = .343).

      Level of active MMPs

      Active MMP-1, -8, and -13 were significantly increased in the Gynemesh PS group compared with sham, with MMP-1 increased by 70% (P = .014), MMP-8 by 66% (P = .048), and MMP-13 by 71% (P = .011). In contrast, the amount of these MMPs was not different from sham in the lighter, more porous UltraPro and Restorelle (all P > .05, Figure 5, A). Furthermore, no difference was found between the 2 UltraPro groups (all P > .05).
      Figure thumbnail gr5
      Figure 5Levels of MMPs after mesh implantation
      A, Interstitial collagenase MMP-1, -8, and -13. B, Elastase MMP-2 and -9 in the vagina after mesh implantation demonstrated by representative images from Western blots and zymography and bar graphs showing compiled mean (normalized to the values of internal control and loading control) and SD. Asterisk indicates a significant difference from sham (P < .05).
      Gynemesh PS; Ethicon, Somerville, NJ. UltraPro; Ethicon. Restorelle; Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN.
      GM, Gynemesh PS; MMP, matrix metalloproteinase; R, Restorelle; S, sham; UP⊥, UltraPro Perpendicular; UP//, UltraPro Parallel.
      Liang. Impact of prolapse meshes on the vaginal extracellular matrix. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2015.
      MMP-2 and -9 were analyzed by substrate zymography (Figure 5, B). Because the bands between the pro and active forms of MMP-9 were not always clearly separable, we analyzed them as a single band. For equipoise, we analyzed MMP-2 similarly. Therefore, total MMP-2 and total MMP-9 are reported. When compared with sham, total MMP-2 increased considerably following the implantation of Gynemesh PS, UltraPro Perpendicular, and UltraPro Parallel by 114% (P = .003), 141% (P = .046), and 116% (P = .045), respectively, but not with Restorelle (P = .11).
      In addition, when compared with sham, total MMP-9 increased in Gynemesh PS, UltraPro Perpendicular, and UltraPro Parallel by 796% (P = .007), 925% (P = .003), and 719% (P = .028), respectively, but not Restorelle (P = .109). No difference was found between the 2 UltraPro groups (all P > .05).

      Comment

      Following implantation with Gynemesh PS by sacrocolpopexy, the quantity of collagen and elastin in the grafted vagina decreased by 20% and 43%, respectively, with impaired tissue function as measured in biomechanical tests.
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      • Feola A.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Jallah Z.
      • et al.
      Deterioration in biomechanical properties of the vagina following implantation of a high-stiffness prolapse mesh.
      Here we demonstrate that the decreases in these key structural proteins is via accelerated degradation associated with an increase in active MMPs including the interstitial collagenases MMP-1, -8, and -13 and the elastases MMP-2, and -9. Although at first glance our finding that implantation with Gynemesh PS stimulates an increase in collagen I and III precursors seems to contradict a degenerative process, we believe that the data reflect a highly active remodeling environment that persists 3 months after mesh implantation. Thus, even though synthesis of collagen precursors is taking place, degradation of these precursors and the mature products likely exceeds synthesis, resulting in a net catabolic effect.
      Similar to our previous studies, in the current study, the heavier, less porous, and stiffer mesh, Gynemesh PS, was associated with an increased matrix degradation, whereas the meshes of lower weight, higher porosity, and lower stiffness had less of a negative impact.
      Elastin is a key protein in pelvic organ support.
      • Drewes P.G.
      • Yanagisawa H.
      • Starcher B.
      • et al.
      Pelvic organ prolapse in fibulin-5 knockout mice: pregnancy-induced changes in elastic fiber homeostasis in mouse vagina.
      A decrease in vaginal mature elastin content occurred following the implantation with Gynemesh PS and UltraPro (regardless of direction) but not Restorelle.
      • Liang R.
      • Abramowitch S.
      • Knight K.
      • et al.
      Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
      The decrease, for the most part, was mirrored by increased degradation as measured by increased mature elastin degradation products and increased total MMP-2 and MMP-9.
      The absence of a change in the amount of tropoelastin and the increase in tropoelastin degradation that occurred in all of the mesh groups suggests that tropoelastin is being degraded at a similar rate as it is synthesized, resulting in minimal net changes. For Gynemesh PS and UltraPro, the inability of tropoelastin to replenish the mature elastin, which is being degraded by MMP-2 and -9, resulted in a net loss of elastin content.
      Polypropylene behaves as a foreign body when implanted into humans, inciting a classic foreign body response. During this process, inflammatory cells are recruited to the mesh insertion site at which MMPs are secreted by these cells and resident cells to facilitate cell infiltration, adhesion and fusion as well as the activation of proinflammatory cytokines.
      • Jones J.A.
      • Mcnally A.K.
      • Chang D.T.
      • et al.
      Matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in the foreign body reaction on biomaterials.
      Although necessary for the body to incorporate foreign materials, excessive and prolonged release/activation of MMPs can lead to the destruction of key matrix proteins, such as collagen and elastin, in the grafted and adjacent areas, resulting in a deterioration of tissue structural and mechanical integrity.
      • Jones J.A.
      • Mcnally A.K.
      • Chang D.T.
      • et al.
      Matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in the foreign body reaction on biomaterials.
      • Klinge U.
      • Junge K.
      • Stumpf M.
      • Ap A.P.
      • Klosterhalfen B.
      Functional and morphological evaluation of a low-weight, monofilament polypropylene mesh for hernia repair.
      In the present study, the levels of activated MMP-1, -2, -8, -9, and -13 increased after the implantation of Gynemesh PS, which correlated well with our previous observation that Gynemesh PS induced stronger foreign body inflammatory responses than meshes of lower weight, higher porosity, and lower stiffness.
      • Mani D.
      • Nolfi A.
      • Brown B.N.
      • Palcsey S.
      • Moalli P.
      Chronic foreign body response following implantation of prolapse meshes in the rhesus macaque.
      • Klein-Patel M.
      • Feola A.
      • Stein S.
      • Moalli P.A.
      Ultra-lightweight synthetic mesh has similar cellular response but increased tissue ingrowth relative to heavier weight prototype.
      Because it is well established that the inflammatory reaction becomes stronger in proportion to the amount of material implanted,
      • Klinge U.
      • Junge K.
      • Stumpf M.
      • Ap A.P.
      • Klosterhalfen B.
      Functional and morphological evaluation of a low-weight, monofilament polypropylene mesh for hernia repair.
      • Rosch R.
      • Junge K.
      • Schachtrupp A.
      • Klinge U.
      • Klosterhalfen B.
      • Schumpelick V.
      Mesh implants in hernia repair. Inflammatory cell response in a rat model.
      • Costello C.R.
      • Bachman S.L.
      • Grant S.A.
      • Cleveland D.S.
      • Loy T.S.
      • Ramshaw B.J.
      Characterization of heavyweight and lightweight polypropylene prosthetic mesh explants from a single patient.
      the findings suggest that an increased mesh burden is more likely to induce prolonged activation of MMPs and excessive matrix destruction.
      Mesh stiffness is a second critical parameter that has an impact on tissue responses by conferring inappropriate mechanical loading to the vagina. Indeed, the stiffness of a mesh has been previously purported to directly influence the occurrence of mesh exposure.
      • Huebner M.
      • Hsu Y.
      • Fenner D.E.
      The use of graft materials in vaginal pelvic floor surgery.
      • Mistrangelo E.
      • Mancuso S.
      • Nadalini C.
      • Lijoi D.
      • Costantini S.
      Rising use of synthetic mesh in transvaginal pelvic reconstructive surgery: a review of the risk of vaginal erosion.
      • Kohli N.
      • Walsh P.M.
      • Roat T.W.
      • Karram M.M.
      Mesh erosion after abdominal sacrocolpopexy.
      The stiffness of mesh determined in ex vivo testing may dramatically change following implantation, tensioning, and loading. For example, Gynemesh PS undergoes a complete loss of porosity and an increase of stiffness at strains of just 4.9 N/cm, demonstrating the instability of mesh properties in response to even small loads.
      • Otto J.
      • Kaldenhoff E.
      • Kirschner-Hermanns R.
      • Muhl T.
      • Klinge U.
      Elongation of textile pelvic floor implants under load is related to complete loss of effective porosity, thereby favoring incorporation in scar plates.
      • Barone W.
      • Moalli P.
      • Abramowitch S.
      Variable porosity of common prolapse meshes during uni-axial loading.
      When the stiffness of implanted material is high, stress shielding of the underlying and associated tissues may increase the activity of MMPs, resulting in tissue degeneration and a loss of mechanical integrity.
      • Majima T.
      • Marchuk L.L.
      • Shrive N.G.
      • Frank C.B.
      • Hart D.A.
      In vitro cyclic tensile loading of an immobilized and mobilized ligament autograft selectively inhibits mRNA levels for collagenase (MMP-1).
      • Gamble J.G.
      • Edwards C.C.
      • Max S.R.
      Enzymatic adaptation in ligaments during immobilization.
      • Amiel D.
      • Woo S.L.
      • Harwood F.L.
      • Akeson W.H.
      The effect of immobilization on collagen turnover in connective tissue: a biochemical-biomechanical correlation.
      • Woo S.L.
      • Gomez M.A.
      • Woo Y.K.
      • Akeson W.H.
      Mechanical properties of tendons and ligaments. II. The relationships of immobilization and exercise on tissue remodeling.
      Our finding that Gynemesh PS induced the highest levels of MMPs is in line with this phenomenon.
      The ratio of collagen subtype III/I was increased in the Gynemesh PS- and UltraPro Perpendicular-implanted vagina but not with the implantation of UltraPro Parallel and Restorelle. Such an increase could be the result of increased production of collagen III precursors in the 2 former groups. It is well known that an increase in the ratio of collagen subtype III/I is present in the default healing process and following microtrauma. Normally the production of collagen type III peaks during the inflammatory phase of healing and decreases steadily thereafter.
      • Liu S.H.
      • Yang R.S.
      • Al-Shaikh R.
      • Lane J.M.
      Collagen in tendon, ligament, and bone healing. A current review.
      • Eriksen H.A.
      • Pajala A.
      • Leppilahti J.
      • Risteli J.
      Increased content of type III collagen at the rupture site of human Achilles tendon.
      The persistent elevated ratio of collagen type III to I in the vagina 3 months after the implantation of Gynemesh PS and UltraPro Perpendicular indicates the presence of prolonged stimuli, possibly from chronic tissue injury caused by a gradual deformation/micromotion of mesh fibers under the loading conditions.
      Indeed, in contrast to UltraPro Perpendicular in which the extremely wide pores (4 mm) collapse under loading conditions, simulating a sacrocolpopexy, the pore geometry of UltraPro Parallel is preserved, even though the mesh is stiffer when loaded uniaxially in this orientation. Similarly, the pores of Restorelle do not collapse when loaded in a sacrocolpopexy model.
      • Barone W.
      • Moalli P.
      • Abramowitch S.
      Variable porosity of common prolapse meshes during uni-axial loading.
      Thus, the less negative impact of UltraPro parallel and Restorelle on the vagina highly suggests that the stability of pore geometry with loading is an important factor to consider. It is likely that meshes in which pore geometry is preserved with loading afford increased tissue in-growth, translating into improved outcomes.
      The primary limitation of the study is that we were able to analyze only a limited number of meshes because of ethical considerations, for which we reduced the number of animals in the study to the lowest possible. However, we were able to define important differences in the impact of commonly used polypropylene meshes with different textile properties on the metabolism of key structural proteins in the vagina.
      In summary, implantation with the heavier, less porous, and stiffer mesh Gynemesh PS by sacrocolpopexy was associated with increased catabolism of collagen and elastin in the vagina, characterized by increased matrix degradation associated with an increase in MMPs. Lighter, more porous, and less stiff meshes had less of a negative impact. Future studies will define the mechanisms by which multiple MMPs are activated in response to different mesh properties.

      Acknowledgment

      We thank Dr Barry Starcher (Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler) for the assistance in examining the total mature elastin content.

      References

        • Iglesia C.B.
        • Fenner D.E.
        • Brubaker L.
        The use of mesh in gynecologic surgery.
        Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 1997; 8: 105-115
        • Jonsson Funk M.
        • Edenfield A.L.
        • Pate V.
        • Visco A.G.
        • Weidner A.C.
        • Wu J.M.
        Trends in use of surgical mesh for pelvic organ prolapse.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2013; 208: 79.e1-79.e7
        • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
        Vaginal placement of synthetic mesh for pelvic organ prolapse. ACOG Committee Opinion no. 513.
        Obstet Gynecol. 2011; 118: 1459-1464
        • Maher C.
        • Feiner B.
        • Baessler K.
        • Schmid C.
        Surgical management of pelvic organ prolapse in women.
        Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013; 4: CD004014
        • Nygaard I.
        • Brubaker L.
        • Zyczynski H.M.
        • et al.
        Long-term outcomes following abdominal sacrocolpopexy for pelvic organ prolapse.
        JAMA. 2013; 309: 2016-2024
        • Liang R.
        • Abramowitch S.
        • Knight K.
        • et al.
        Vaginal degeneration following implantation of synthetic mesh with increased stiffness.
        BJOG. 2013; 120: 233-243
        • Feola A.
        • Barone W.
        • Moalli P.
        • Abramowitch S.
        Characterizing the ex vivo textile and structural properties of synthetic prolapse mesh products.
        Int Urogynecol J. 2013; 24: 559-564
        • Ozog Y.
        • Konstantinovic M.
        • Werbrouck E.
        • De Ridder D.
        • Mazza E.
        • Deprest J.
        Persistence of polypropylene mesh anisotropy after implantation: an experimental study.
        BJOG. 2011; 118: 1180-1185
        • Feola A.
        • Abramowitch S.
        • Jallah Z.
        • et al.
        Deterioration in biomechanical properties of the vagina following implantation of a high-stiffness prolapse mesh.
        BJOG. 2013; 120: 224-232
        • Moalli P.A.
        • Shand S.H.
        • Zyczynski H.M.
        • Gordy S.C.
        • Meyn L.A.
        Remodeling of vaginal connective tissue in patients with prolapse.
        Obstet Gynecol. 2005; 106: 953-963
        • Niyibizi C.
        • Kavalkovich K.
        • Yamaji T.
        • Woo S.L.
        Type V collagen is increased during rabbit medial collateral ligament healing.
        Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2000; 8: 281-285
        • Sykes B.
        • Puddle B.
        • Francis M.
        • Smith R.
        The estimation of two collagens from human dermis by interrupted gel electrophoresis.
        Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1976; 72: 1472-1480
        • Starcher B.
        • Conrad M.
        A role for neutrophil elastase in the progression of solar elastosis.
        Connect Tissue Res. 1995; 31: 133-140
        • Drewes P.G.
        • Yanagisawa H.
        • Starcher B.
        • et al.
        Pelvic organ prolapse in fibulin-5 knockout mice: pregnancy-induced changes in elastic fiber homeostasis in mouse vagina.
        Am J Pathol. 2007; 170: 578-589
        • Jones J.A.
        • Mcnally A.K.
        • Chang D.T.
        • et al.
        Matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in the foreign body reaction on biomaterials.
        J Biomed Mater Res A. 2008; 84: 158-166
        • Klinge U.
        • Junge K.
        • Stumpf M.
        • Ap A.P.
        • Klosterhalfen B.
        Functional and morphological evaluation of a low-weight, monofilament polypropylene mesh for hernia repair.
        J Biomed Mater Res. 2002; 63: 129-136
        • Mani D.
        • Nolfi A.
        • Brown B.N.
        • Palcsey S.
        • Moalli P.
        Chronic foreign body response following implantation of prolapse meshes in the rhesus macaque.
        Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg. 2013; 19: S89
        • Klein-Patel M.
        • Feola A.
        • Stein S.
        • Moalli P.A.
        Ultra-lightweight synthetic mesh has similar cellular response but increased tissue ingrowth relative to heavier weight prototype.
        Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg. 2011; 17: S56
        • Rosch R.
        • Junge K.
        • Schachtrupp A.
        • Klinge U.
        • Klosterhalfen B.
        • Schumpelick V.
        Mesh implants in hernia repair. Inflammatory cell response in a rat model.
        Eur Surg Res. 2003; 35: 161-166
        • Costello C.R.
        • Bachman S.L.
        • Grant S.A.
        • Cleveland D.S.
        • Loy T.S.
        • Ramshaw B.J.
        Characterization of heavyweight and lightweight polypropylene prosthetic mesh explants from a single patient.
        Surg Innov. 2007; 14: 168-176
        • Huebner M.
        • Hsu Y.
        • Fenner D.E.
        The use of graft materials in vaginal pelvic floor surgery.
        Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2006; 92: 279-288
        • Mistrangelo E.
        • Mancuso S.
        • Nadalini C.
        • Lijoi D.
        • Costantini S.
        Rising use of synthetic mesh in transvaginal pelvic reconstructive surgery: a review of the risk of vaginal erosion.
        J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2007; 14: 564-569
        • Kohli N.
        • Walsh P.M.
        • Roat T.W.
        • Karram M.M.
        Mesh erosion after abdominal sacrocolpopexy.
        Obstet Gynecol. 1998; 92: 999-1004
        • Otto J.
        • Kaldenhoff E.
        • Kirschner-Hermanns R.
        • Muhl T.
        • Klinge U.
        Elongation of textile pelvic floor implants under load is related to complete loss of effective porosity, thereby favoring incorporation in scar plates.
        J Biomed Mater Res A. 2014; 102: 1079-1084
        • Barone W.
        • Moalli P.
        • Abramowitch S.
        Variable porosity of common prolapse meshes during uni-axial loading.
        Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg. 2013; 19: S56
        • Majima T.
        • Marchuk L.L.
        • Shrive N.G.
        • Frank C.B.
        • Hart D.A.
        In vitro cyclic tensile loading of an immobilized and mobilized ligament autograft selectively inhibits mRNA levels for collagenase (MMP-1).
        J Orthop Sci. 2000; 5: 503-510
        • Gamble J.G.
        • Edwards C.C.
        • Max S.R.
        Enzymatic adaptation in ligaments during immobilization.
        Am J Sports Med. 1984; 12: 221-228
        • Amiel D.
        • Woo S.L.
        • Harwood F.L.
        • Akeson W.H.
        The effect of immobilization on collagen turnover in connective tissue: a biochemical-biomechanical correlation.
        Acta Orthop Scand. 1982; 53: 325-332
        • Woo S.L.
        • Gomez M.A.
        • Woo Y.K.
        • Akeson W.H.
        Mechanical properties of tendons and ligaments. II. The relationships of immobilization and exercise on tissue remodeling.
        Biorheology. 1982; 19: 397-408
        • Liu S.H.
        • Yang R.S.
        • Al-Shaikh R.
        • Lane J.M.
        Collagen in tendon, ligament, and bone healing. A current review.
        Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1995; : 265-278
        • Eriksen H.A.
        • Pajala A.
        • Leppilahti J.
        • Risteli J.
        Increased content of type III collagen at the rupture site of human Achilles tendon.
        J Orthop Res. 2002; 20: 1352-1357