Aim: The aim of the present work was to explain the poor biointegration of acellular dermal xenogeneic matrix, leading to an unfavorable gingival healing following a grafting procedure for the treatment of soft tissue deficiencies.
Background: Numerous works have demonstrated the successful use of acellular dermal matrix (ADM) in soft tissue augmentation procedures. However, spare human investigations reported adverse healing outcomes at microscopic level.
Case description: Three patients showing various soft tissue deficiencies (recession, gingival thickening) requiring a gingival augmentation were grafted using an ADM porcine acellular dermal matrices (pADM) as a soft tissue substitute. For this purpose, appropriate soft tissue augmentation surgeries were performed and the grafted pADM was left for proper healing. Biopsies were harvested from two out of the three patients, respectively, at 11 and 27 weeks in order to conduct a histological evaluation of the pADM's doubtful biointegration. Moreover, the ultrastructural analysis of pADM was performed using scanning electron microscopy, and additional histological procedures were used to assess its ability to support human gingival fibroblast cultures. Signs of gingival inflammation persisted several months postoperatively. Histologically, numerous inflammatory cells characterized the grafted site. Indeed, the high number of foreign body giant cell granulomas and the very densified newly formed collagen fibers highlighted a fibrotic process within gingival connective tissue.
The ultrastructural and histological analysis showed that pADM was characterized by very thick and dense collagen bundles demonstrating a nonphysiological collagen network organization. Cell culture experiments showed fibroblasts proliferating on the matrix surface, sparing its deeper part, even though the collagen matrix degradation seemed to occur following a gradient from the pADM surface inward.
Conclusion: The unfavorable clinical results may be caused by the poor colonization of matrix cells and poor angiogenesis leading to the inadequate biointegration of pADM. Hence, the pADM structure in terms of porosity and degradability should be further investigated.
Clinical significance: The present cases highlighted a poor integration of pADM following soft tissue grafting procedures, which was caused by the inadequate ultrastructure of the used pADM. Therefore, despite the utility of such tissue substitutes, their manufacturing improvement could be required to obtain a better biointegration.
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