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J Orthop Res. 2006 Apr;24(4):811-9.

Long-term effects of porcine small intestine submucosa on the healing of medial collateral ligament: a functional tissue engineering study.

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  • 1Musculoskeletal Research Center, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 405 Center for Bioengineering, 300 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219, USA.


Porcine small intestinal submucosa (SIS) was previously shown to enhance the mechanical properties of healing medial collateral ligaments (MCL), and the histomorphological appearance and collagen type V/I ratio were found to be close to those of normal MCL. We hypothesized that at a longer term, 26 weeks, SIS could guide a better organized neo-ligament formation, increasing mechanical properties and increasing collagen fibril diameters mediated by a reduction in collagen type V. A 6 mm gap injury in the right MCL was surgically created in 38 rabbits, while the contralateral intact MCL served as a sham-operated control. In half the animals, a strip of SIS was sutured onto the severed ends. In the other half, no SIS was applied. The cross-sectional area (CSA) was determined with a laser micrometer system. The femur-MCL-tibia complex was mechanically tested in uniaxial tension. Histomorphology was determined through H&E and immunofluorescent staining and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Sodium-dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) was used to determine collagen type V/I ratio. SIS-treated MCLs displayed a 28% reduction in CSA, a 33% increase in tangent modulus, and a 50% increase in tensile strength compared with the nontreated group (p < 0.05). TEM showed groups of collagen fibrils with larger diameters in the SIS-treated ligaments in comparison with uniformly small fibrils for the nontreated group. H&E staining showed more densely stained collagen fibers in the SIS-treated group aligned along the longitudinal axis with more interspersed spindle-shaped cells. Immunofluorescent staining showed less collagen type V signals, confirmed by a 5% lower ratio of collagen type V/I compared with the nontreated controls (p < 0.05). The findings extend the shorter term 12-week results, and support the potential of porcine SIS as a bioscaffold to enhance ligament healing.

Copyright 2006 Orthopaedic Research Society

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