Growth factor delivery strategies for rotator cuff repair and regeneration

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The high incidence of degenerative tears and prevalence of retears (20–95%) after surgical repair makes rotator cuff injuries a significant health problem. This high retear rate is attributed to the failure of the repaired tissue to regenerate the native tendon-to-bone insertion (enthesis). Biological augmentation of surgical repair such as autografts, allografts, and xenografts are confounded by donor site morbidity, immunogenicity, and disease transmission, respectively. In contrast, these risks may be alleviated via growth factor therapy, which can actively influence the healing environment to promote functional repair. Several challenges have to be overcome before growth factor delivery can translate into clinical practice such as the selection of optimal growth factor(s) or combination, identification of the most efficient stage and duration of delivery, and the design considerations for the delivery device. Emerging insight into the injury-repair microenvironment and our understanding of growth factor mechanisms in healing are informing the design of advanced delivery scaffolds to effectively treat rotator cuff tears. Here, we review potential growth factor candidates, design parameters and material selection for growth factor delivery, innovative and dynamic delivery scaffolds, and novel therapeutic targets from tendon and developmental biology for the structural and functional healing of rotator cuff repair.

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