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Biomaterials. 2011 Aug;32(23):5330-40. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.04.021. Epub 2011 May 7.

The effect of anisotropic collagen-GAG scaffolds and growth factor supplementation on tendon cell recruitment, alignment, and metabolic activity.

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Dept. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Current surgical and tissue engineering approaches for treating tendon injuries have shown limited success, suggesting the need for new biomaterial strategies. Here we describe the development of an anisotropic collagen-glycosaminoglycan (CG) scaffold and use of growth factor supplementation strategies to create a 3D platform for tendon tissue engineering. We fabricated cylindrical CG scaffolds with aligned tracks of ellipsoidal pores that mimic the native physiology of tendon by incorporating a directional solidification step into a conventional lyophilization strategy. By modifying the freezing temperature, we created a homologous series of aligned CG scaffolds with constant relative density and degree of anisotropy but a range of pore sizes (55-243 μm). Equine tendon cells showed greater levels of attachment, metabolic activity, and alignment as well as less cell-mediated scaffold contraction, when cultured in anisotropic scaffolds compared to an isotropic CG scaffold control. The anisotropic CG scaffolds also provided critical contact guidance cues for cell alignment. While tendon cells were randomly oriented in the isotropic control scaffold and the transverse (unaligned) plane of the anisotropic scaffolds, significant cell alignment was observed in the direction of the contact guidance cues in the longitudinal plane of the anisotropic scaffolds. Scaffold pore size was found to significantly influence tendon cell viability, proliferation, penetration into the scaffold, and metabolic activity in a manner predicted by cellular solids arguments. Finally, the addition of the growth factors PDGF-BB and IGF-1 to aligned CG scaffolds was found to enhance tendon cell motility, viability, and metabolic activity in dose-dependent manners. This work suggests a composite strategy for developing bioactive, 3D material systems for tendon tissue engineering.

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