Objectives: Tissue engineering may provide a treatment for severe vocal fold scars. This study quantifies mechanical properties and demonstrates vibration of a tissue-engineered vocal fold cover replacement. Methods: Tissue-engineered constructs were produced from fibrin and adipose-derived stem cells. Optimized bilayered constructs contained epithelial and mesenchymal cell phenotypes in a stratified geometry. For comparison, homogeneous constructs did not have epithelial differentiation. Elastic modulus was determined using indentation. Immunohistochemical labeling for type I collagen was performed. A bilayered construct was also tested in phonation in an excised larynx model. Results: Bilayered vocal fold cover replacements had indentation moduli similar to human vocal fold covers (mean construct modulus 6.8 kPa). Collagen deposition occurred in the middle of the construct. Homogeneous constructs had a mean modulus of 8.3 kPa, and collagen was concentrated at the surface. An excised larynx with unilateral vocal fold cover replacement phonated and exhibited mucosal waves at physiologic airflow. Conclusion: Bilayered tissue-engineered constructs were produced that exhibited indentation modulus, microstructure, and vibration similar to that exhibited by human vocal fold covers.
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