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Knee. 2012 Oct;19(5):672-5. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2011.08.002. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Decellularization of bovine anterior cruciate ligament tissues minimizes immunogenic reactions to alpha-gal epitopes by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, 300 Longwood Avenue, Enders 270.4, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Rupture of ACL is a common injury. While the current surgical treatments are effective, many patients still suffer from precocious osteoarthritis, and there is an increasing interest in bioengineering approaches to improve ACL repair. Bovine collagen is a material currently in use for tissue engineering of ligaments. The alpha-gal epitopes found on bovine cells are a source of immunogenic stimulus for human cells. In this study, we wished to determine if those epitopes could be removed sufficiently to mitigate an immunogenic response using either a decellularization protocol or decellularization followed by alpha-galactosidase treatment. Bovine ACLs were treated with Triton-X, sodium deoxycholate, ribonuclease, and deoxyribonuclease to remove cells. A subset of the decellularized tissues was further treated with alpha-galactosidase. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were exposed to untreated, decellularized, and alpha-galactosidase-treated tissues, and PBMC migration and IL-6 release were measured. PBMCs were significantly more attracted to untreated ACL compared to decellularized or alpha-galactosidase-treated tissue, but no difference was seen between the two treatment groups. PBMCs also released significantly more IL-6 when exposed to untreated tissue compared to decellularized ACL or alpha-galactosidase-treated ACL, but no difference was seen between the two treatment groups. Immunohistochemistry using anti-alpha-gal antibody detected the epitopes throughout the untreated ACL, but similar areas of reaction were not seen on decellularized or alpha-galactosidase-treated ACL. These results suggest that our decellularization protocol minimizes the immunogenic reactions of human PBMCs to bovine ACL tissue. Therefore, decellularized bovine ACL tissue may be a safe, effective biomaterial for ACL injury treatments.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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