Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is a common ligamentous injury often necessitating surgery. Current surgical treatment options include ligament reconstruction with autograft or allograft, which have their inherent limitations. Thus, there is interest in a tissue-engineered substitute for use in ACL regeneration. However, there have been relatively few in vivo studies to date. In this study, an athymic rat model of ACL reconstruction was used to evaluate electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) grafts, with and without the addition of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and human foreskin fibroblasts. We examined the regenerative potential of tissue-engineered ACL grafts using histology, immunohistochemistry, and mechanical testing up to 16 weeks post-operatively. Histology showed infiltration of the grafts with cells, and immunohistochemistry demonstrated aligned collagen deposition with minimal inflammatory reaction. Mechanical testing of the grafts demonstrated significantly higher mechanical properties than immediately postimplantation. Acellular grafts loaded with bFGF achieved 58.8% of the stiffness and 40.7% of the peak load of healthy native ACL. Grafts without bFGF achieved 31.3% of the stiffness and 28.2% of the peak load of healthy native ACL. In this in vivo rodent model study for ACL reconstruction, the histological and mechanical evaluation demonstrated excellent healing and regenerative potential of our electrospun PCL ligament graft.
Leong, Natalie Luanne, Nima Kabir, Armin Arshi, Azadeh Nazemi, Ben Wu, Frank A. Petrigliano, David R. McAllister