The success of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) depends on osseointegration at the graft-tunnel interface and intra-articular ligamentization. Our aim was to conduct a systematic review of clinical and preclinical studies that evaluated biological augmentation of graft healing in ACLR.Materials and Methods
In all, 1879 studies were identified across three databases. Following assessment against strict criteria, 112 studies were included (20 clinical studies; 92 animal studies).Results
Seven categories of biological interventions were identified: growth factors, biomaterials, stem cells, gene therapy, autologous tissue, biophysical/environmental, and pharmaceuticals. The methodological quality of animal studies was moderate in 97%, but only 10% used clinically relevant outcome measures. The most interventions in clinical trials target the graft-tunnel interface and are applied intraoperatively. Platelet-rich plasma is the most studied intervention, but the clinical outcomes are mixed, and the methodological quality of studies was suboptimal. Other biological therapies investigated in clinical trials include: remnant-augmented ACLR; bone substitutes; calcium phosphate-hybridized grafts; extracorporeal shockwave therapy; and adult autologus non-cultivated stem cells.Conclusion
There is extensive preclinical research supporting the use of biological therapies to augment ACLR. Further clinical studies that meet the minimum standards of reporting are required to determine whether emerging biological strategies will provide tangible benefits in patients undergoing ACLR.