Healing of an anterior cruciate ligament graft in bone tunnel yields weaker fibrous scar tissue, which may prolong an already prolonged healing process within the tendon-bone interface. In this study, gelatin molecules were added to thermosensitive chitosan/β-glycerol phosphate disodium salt hydrogels to form chitosan/gelatin/β-glycerol phosphate (C/G/GP) hydrogels, which were applied to 0.1 mg/mL collagenase carrier in the tendon-bone junction. New Zealand white rabbit's long digital extensor tendon was detached and translated into a 2.5-mm diameter tibial plateau tunnel. Thirty-six rabbits underwent bilateral surgery and hydrogel injection treatment with and without collagenase. Histological analyses revealed early healing and more bone formation at the tendon-bone interface after collagenase partial digestion. The area of metachromasia significantly increased in both 4-week and 8-week groups after collagenase treatment (p < 0.01). Micro computed tomography showed a significant increase in total bone volume and bone volume/tissue volume in the 8 weeks after collagenase treatment, compared with the control group. Load-to-failure was significantly higher in the treated group at 8 weeks (23.8 ± 8.13 N vs 14.3 ± 3.9 N; p = 0.008). Treatment with collagenase digestion resulted in a 66% increase in pull-out strength. In conclusion, injection of C/G/GP hydrogel with collagenase improves tendon-to-bone healing in a rabbit model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Polymers and Plastics