Ligaments and tendons have previously been tissue engineered. However, without the bone attachment, implantation of a tissue-engineered ligament would require it to be sutured to the remnant of the injured native tissue. Due to slow repair and remodeling, this would result in a chronically weak tissue that may never return to preinjury function. In contrast, orthopaedic autograft reconstruction of the ligament often uses a bone-to-bone technique for optimal repair. Since bone-to-bone repairs heal better than other methods, implantation of an artificial ligament should also occur from bone-to-bone. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of a poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel incorporated with hydroxyapatite (HA) and the cell-adhesion peptide RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp) as a material for creating an in vitro tissue interface to engineer intact ligaments (i.e., bone-ligament-bone). Incorporation of HA into PEG hydrogels reduced the swelling ratio but increased mechanical strength and stiffness of the hydrogels. Further, HA addition increased the capacity for cell growth and interface formation. RGD incorporation increased the swelling ratio but decreased mechanical strength and stiffness of the material. Optimum levels of cell attachment were met using a combination of both HA and RGD, but this material had no better mechanical properties than PEG alone. Although adherence of the hydrogels containing HA was achieved, failure occurs at about 4 days with 5% HA. Increasing the proportion of HA improved interface formation; however, with high levels of HA, the PEG HA composite became brittle. This data suggests that HA, by itself or with other materials, might be well suited for engineering the ligament-bone interface.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering