Development of Ligament-Like Structural Organization and Properties in Cell-Seeded Collagen Scaffoldsin vitro

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Acute anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries lead to poor joint function, instability, and eventually osteoarthritis if left untreated. Current surgical treatment options are not ideal; however, tissue engineering may provide mechanically sound, biocompatible reconstructions. Collagen fiber scaffolds were combined with fibroblast-seeded collagen gels and maintained in culture for up to 20 days. The tensile and viscoelastic behavior of the constructs closely mimicked that of natural ligament. Constructs' mechanical and viscoelastic properties did not degrade over time in culture, and peak stress was significantly higher for constructs with embedded fibroblasts. Immunocytochemical and histological analyses demonstrated cell proliferation and ligament-like organization. We have created an engineered tissue that closely approaches key mechanical and viscoelastic properties of the ACL, does not degrade after 20 days in culture, and is histologically similar to the native tissue. This study should aid in developing effective treatments for ACL injury.

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