Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most difficult tissues to heal once injured. Ligament regeneration and tendon-bone junction healing are two major goals of ACL reconstruction. This study aimed to investigate the synergistic therapeutic effects of Stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1)-releasing collagen-silk (CSF) scaffold combined with intra-articular injection of ligament-derived stem/progenitor cells (LSPCs) for ACL regeneration and the amelioration in the long-term complication of osteoarthritis (OA). The stem cell recruitment ability of CSF scaffold and the multipotency, particularly the tendon forming ability of LSPCs from rabbits were characterized in vitro, while the synergistic effect of the CSF scaffold and LSPCs for ACL regeneration and OA amelioration were investigated in vivo at 1, 3, and 6 months with a rabbit ACL reconstruction model. The CSF scaffold was used as a substitute for the ACL, and LSPCs were injected into the joint cavity after 7 days of the ACL reconstruction. CSF scaffold displayed a controlled release pattern for the encapsulated protein for up to 7 days with an increased stiffness in the mechanical property. LSPCs, which exhibited highly I Collagen and CXCR4 expression, were attracted by SDF-1 and successfully relocated into the CSF scaffold at 1 month in vivo. At 3 and 6 months post-treatment, the CSF scaffold combined with LSPCs (CSFL group) enhanced the regeneration of ACL tissue, and promoted bone tunnel healing. Furthermore, the OA progression was impeded efficiently. Our findings here provided a new strategy that using stem cell recruiting CSF scaffold with tissue-specific stem cells, could be a promising solution for ACL regeneration.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: In this study, we developed a silk scaffold with increased stiffness and SDF-1 controlled release capacity for ligament repair. This advanced scaffold transplantation combined with intra-articular injection of LSPCs (which was isolated from rabbit ligament for the first time in this study) promoted the regeneration of both the tendinous and bone tunnel portion of ACL. This therapeutic strategy also ameliorated cartilage degeneration and reduced the severity of arthrofibrosis. Hence, combining LSPCs injection with SDF-1-releasing silk scaffold is demonstrated as a therapeutic strategy for ACL regeneration and OA treatment in the clinic.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.