Revitalized and Synovialized Allograft for Intrasynovial Flexor Tendon Reconstruction in an in Vivo Canine Model

J Orthop Res. 2018 Mar 25. [Epub ahead of print]

This study was to test our hypothesis that flexor tendon reconstruction with an allograft revitalized with bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) and synovialized with carbodiimide derivatized autologous synovial fluid (cd-SYN) would result in better digit functional restoration than the conventional allograft tendon.

Thirty-two flexor digital profundus tendons from the second and fifth digit of 16 dogs were created a repair failure model first. Then, failed-repaired tendons were reconstructed with either a revitalized-synovialized allograft tendon or a clinical standard autograft tendon (control group). The allograft tendon was seeded with autologous BMSCs in multiple slits and the graft surface was coated with cd-SYN. Six weeks after tendon reconstruction, the digits were harvested and evaluated for digit function, adhesion status, tendon gliding resistance, attachment strength, cell viability, and histologic factors.

The allograft group had significantly improved digit function compared with the control group through decreased work of flexion, increased digit range of motion under 2-Newton force, and less adhesion score (P <.05). However, the distal attachment-site strength and stiffness in the allograft tendon were significantly weaker than the autografts (P <.05). No significant difference was found for gliding resistance. Histologically, allograft tendons coated with allograft had smoother surfaces and showed tendon-to-bone and tendon-to-tendon incorporation.

Viable BMSCs were found in the tendon slits six weeks after the graft. In conclusion, cellular lubricant-based modification of allograft tendons improved digit function and reduced the adhesions compared with autograft for flexor tendon reconstruction. However, improvement of graft-to-host tendon healing is still challenging. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS: bone marrow stromal cells; graft; surface modification; tendon repair