Background: Hernia repair is a common surgical procedure with polypropylene (PP) mesh being the standard material for correction because of its durability. However, complications such as seroma and pain are common, and repair failures still approach 15% secondary to poor tissue integration. In an effort to enhance mesh integration, we evaluated the applicability of a squid ring teeth (SRT) protein coating for soft-tissue repair in an abdominal wall defect model. SRT is a biologically derived high-strength protein with strong mechanical properties. We assessed tissue integration, strength, and biocompatibility of a SRT-coated PP mesh in a first-time pilot animal study. Methods: PP mesh was coated with SRT (SRT-PP) and tested for mechanical strength against uncoated PP mesh. Cell proliferation and adhesion studies were performed in vitro using a 3T3 cell line. Rats underwent either PP (n = 3) or SRTPP (n = 6) bridge mesh implantation in an anterior abdominal wall defect model. Repair was assessed clinically and radiographically, with integration evaluated by histology and mechanical testing at 60 days. Results: Cell proliferation was enhanced on SRT-PP mesh. This was corroborated in vivo by abdominal wall histology, dramatically diminished craniocaudal mesh contraction, improved strength testing, and higher tissue failure strain. There was no increase in seroma or visceral adhesion formation. No foreign body reactions were noted on liver histology. Conclusions: SRT applied as a coating appears to augment mesh-tissue integration and improve abdominal wall stability following bridged repair. Further studies in larger animals will determine its applicability for hernia repair in patients.
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