Engineering of extensor tendon complex by an ex vivo approach
Engineering of extensor tendon complex remains an unexplored area in tendon engineering research. In addition, less is known about the mechanism of mechanical loading in human tendon development and maturation. In the current study, an ex vivo approach was developed to investigate these issues. Human fetal extensor tenocytes were isolated, expanded and seeded on polyglycolic acid (PGA) fibers that formed a scaffold with a shape mimicking human extensor tendon complex. After in vitro culture for 6 weeks, 7 cell-scaffold constructs were further in vitro cultured with dynamic mechanical loading for another 6 weeks in a bioreactor. The other 14 constructs were in vivo implanted subcutaneously to nude mice for another 14 weeks. Seven of them were implanted without loading, whereas the other 7 were sutured to mouse fascia and animal movement provided a natural dynamic loading in vivo. The results demonstrated that human fetal cells could form an extensor tendon complex structure in vitro and become further matured in vivo by mechanical stimulation. In contrast to in vitro loaded and in vivo non-loaded tendons, in vivo loaded tendons exhibited bigger tissue volume, better aligned collagen fibers, more mature collagen fibril structure with D-band periodicity, and stronger mechanical properties. These findings indicate that an extensor tendon complex like structure is possible to generate by an ex vivo approach and in vivo mechanical loading might be an optimal niche for engineering functional extensor tendon.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 29, Issue 20, July 2008, Pages 2954–2961