Enhancement of rotator cuff tendon-bone healing with injectable periosteum progenitor cells-BMP-2 hydrogel in vivo

Chih-Hwa Chen, Chih-Hsiang Chang, Kun-Chung Wang, Chun-I Su, Hsien-Tao Liu, Chung-Ming Yu, Chak-Bor Wong, I-Chun Wang, Shu Wen Whu, Hsia-Wei Liu
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy 2011, 19 (9): 1597-607

PURPOSE: The fixation and incorporation of ruptured rotator cuff tendon to bone is a major concern in rotator cuff repair surgery. Rotator cuff repair usually fails at the tendon-bone interface, especially in case of large or massive tears. To enhance tendon-bone healing, an injectable hydrogel made with periosteal progenitor cells(PPCs) and poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) tethered with bone morphogenic protein-2(BMP-2) was developed to encourage extracellular matrix synthesis for tendon-to-bone healing in rotator cuff repair.

METHODS: The infraspinatus tendon was cut from the greater tuberosity and repaired through a transosseous tunnel with the injectable progenitor cell-BMP-2 hydrogel applied between the tendon-bone interface. The injectable hydrogel was prepared from 10% poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) containing 0.05% of the photoinitiator. BMP-2 tethered with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) was blended to the hydrogel. Rabbit periosteal progenitor cells (PPCs) isolated from periosteum were mixed with hydrogel and injected on the tendon-bone interface. Ultraviolet radiation (365 nm) was applied for 60 s to photopolymerize the injection and solidify the hydrogel. The rabbits were killed at 4 and 8 weeks. The morphological characteristics of the healing tendon-to-bone interface were evaluated by histological and immunohistochemical methods. The biomechanical test was done to determine healing attachment strength.

RESULTS: At both the 4- and 8-week killing, histological analysis of the tendon-bone interface showed an increasing fibrocartilage and bone layer formed in the tendon-bone interface in PEGDA group. At 4 weeks, fibrocartilage-like tissue was observed in a focal area. At 8 weeks, further matrix deposition occurred with fibrocartilage formation in the tendon-bone junction, and bone formation appeared near host bone. Immunohistochemistry revealed the presence of aggrecan and type II collagen. Biomechanical testing revealed a higher maximum pull-out load at all time points with a statistically significant difference at 4 and 8 weeks postoperatively.

CONCLUSION: PEGDA hydrogel was approved as an adequate matrix for the encapsulation of cells and signal factor, and as an effective local delivery method to the tendon-bone interface through injection and photopolymerization. The PPCs-BMP2-hydrogel provides a powerful inductive ability between the tendon and the bone and enhances tendon-bone healing through the neoformation of fibrocartilage.

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