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Teuschl, AH; Tangl, S; Heimel, P; Schwarze, UY; Monforte, X; Redl, H; Nau, T.
Osteointegration of a Novel Silk Fiber-Based ACL Scaffold by Formation of a Ligament-Bone Interface.
Am J Sports Med. 2019; 47(3):620-627
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Authors Med Uni Graz:
Schwarze Uwe Yacine

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Given the unsatisfactory results and reported drawbacks of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, such as donor site morbidity and the limited choice of grafts in revision surgery, new regenerative approaches based on tissue-engineering strategies are currently under investigation. To determine (1) if a novel silk fiber-based ACL scaffold is able to initiate osteointegration in the femoral and tibial bone tunnels under in vivo conditions and (2) if the osteointegration process will be improved by intraoperatively seeding the scaffolds with the autologous stromal vascular fraction, an adipose-derived, stem cell-rich isolate from knee fat pads. Controlled laboratory study. A total of 33 sheep underwent ACL resection and were then randomly assigned to 2 experimental groups: ACL reconstruction with a scaffold alone and ACL reconstruction with a cell-seeded scaffold. Half of the sheep in each group were randomly chosen and euthanized 6 months after surgery and the other half at 12 months. To analyze the integration of the silk-based scaffold in the femoral and tibial bone tunnels, hard tissue histology and micro-computed tomography measurements were performed. Hard tissue histological workup showed that in all treatment groups, with or without the application of the autologous stromal vascular fraction, an interzone of collagen fibers had formed between bone and silk-based graft. This collagen-fiber continuity partly consisted of Sharpey fibers, comparable with tendon-bone healing known for autografts and allografts. Insertion sites were more broad based at 6 months and more concentrated on the slightly protruding, bony knoblike structures at 12 months. Histologically, no differences between the treatment groups were detectable. Analysis of micro-computed tomography measurements revealed a significantly higher tissue density for the cell-seeded scaffold group as compared with the scaffold-alone group in the tibial but not femoral bone tunnel after 12 months of implantation. The novel silk fiber-based scaffold for ACL regeneration demonstrated integration into the bone tunnels via the formation of a fibrous interzone similar to allografts and autografts. Histologically, additional cell seeding did not enhance osteointegration. No significant differences between 6 and 12 months could be detected. After 12 months, there was still a considerable amount of silk present, and a longer observation period is necessary to see if a true ligament-bone enthesis will be formed. ACL regeneration with a silk fiber-based scaffold with and without additional cell seeding may provide an alternative treatment option to current techniques of surgical reconstruction.

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