Using rheology to quantify the effects of localized collagenase treatments on uterine fibroid digestion.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Uterine fibroids are stiff, benign tumors containing excessive, disordered collagens that occur in 70-80% of women before age 50 and cause bleeding and pain. Collagenase Clostridium histolyticum (CCH) is a bacterial enzyme capable of digesting the collagens present in fibroids. By combining CCH with injectable drug delivery systems to enhance effectiveness, a new class of treatments could be developed to reduce the stiffness of fibroids, preventing the need for surgical removal and preserving fertility. In this work, we achieved localization of CCH via physical entrapment by co-injecting a thermoresponsive pNIPAM-based polymeric delivery system called LiquoGel (LQG), which undergoes a sol-gel transition upon heating. Toxicity study results for LQG injected subcutaneously into mice demonstrate that LQG does not induce lesions or other adverse effects. We then used rheology to quantify the effects of localized CCH injections on the modulus and viscoelasticity of uterine fibroids, which exhibit gel-like behavior, through ex vivo and in vivo digestion studies. Ex vivo CCH injections reduce the tissue modulus by over two orders of magnitude and co-injection of LQG enhances this effect. Rheological results from an in vivo digestion study in mice show a significant reduction in tissue modulus and increase in tissue viscoelasticity 7 days after a single injection of LQG+CCH. Parallel histological staining validates that the observed rheological changes correspond to an increase in collagen lysis after treatment by LQG+CCH. These results show promise for development of injectable and localized enzymatic therapies for uterine fibroids and other dense tumors. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Uterine fibroids are stiff, benign tumors containing high collagen levels that cause bleeding and pain in women. Fertility-preserving and minimally-invasive treatments to soften fibroids are needed as an alternative to surgical removal via hysterectomy. We demonstrate through ex vivo and in vivo studies that co-injecting a thermoresponsive polymer delivery system (LQG) alongside a bacterial collagenase (CCH) enzyme significantly increases treatment effectiveness at softening fibroids through CCH localization. We use rheology to measure the modulus and viscoelasticity of fibroids and histology to show that fibroid softening corresponds to a decrease in collagen after treatment with LQG+CCH. These results highlight the utility of rheology at quantifying tissue properties and present a promising injectable therapy for fibroids and other dense tumors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Corder, RD; Gadi, SV; Vachieri, RB; Jayes, FL; Cullen, JM; Khan, SA; Taylor, DK

Published Date

  • October 15, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 134 /

Start / End Page

  • 443 - 452

PubMed ID

  • 34371168

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8823699

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1878-7568

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.actbio.2021.08.003


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England