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A rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common knee ligament injuries affecting the young and active population. Tissue engineering strategies to reconstruct the damaged ACL have met with significant challenges mainly associated with poor graft integration at the bone-ligament interface (i.e., enthesis). In this study, a "design-build-validate" strategy was employed by combining 3D Raman spectral mapping and 3D printing to develop a tissue engineered scaffold that is compositionally similar to the ACL bone-ligament interface and can provide the essential biochemical cues to promote interface regeneration and facilitate functional graft to bone integration. Results showed that Raman spectroscopy is a highly efficient nondestructive technique to determine the biochemical composition of native ACL enthesis. 3D printing using combinatory inks consisting of different compositions of methacrylated collagen (CMA) and Bioglass (BG) allowed for the fabrication of BG gradient-incorporated collagen matrices (BioGIMs) with a transition region confirmed by Alizarin red S staining. Furthermore, Raman spectroscopy validated replication of ACL enthesis composition in BioGIMs. In addition, human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) cultured on BioGIMs showed morphological differences along the length of the BioGIMs as evidenced by confocal microscopy of cell cytoskeleton-stained images indicating that the cells can sense the underlying differences in matrix composition. Overall, the "design-build-validate" strategy developed in this study has significant potential to generate biomimetic tissue constructs for use at the interface regions of synthetic grafts to promote better host integration and achieve full reconstruction of the ACL. Impact statement Poor graft integration at the bone-ligament interface (i.e., enthesis) is a significant clinical problem in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair and reconstruction. In this study, Raman spectroscopy and 3D printing technologies were used in combination for the first time in a design-build-validate strategy to develop a continuous biomimetic Bioglass gradient-incorporated collagen matrix (BioGIM) that compositionally emulates the native ACL enthesis. These BioGIMs can be fused onto the ends of synthetic ACL grafts and have significant potential to provide the essential biochemical cues to guide tissue-specific cell differentiation, augment functional matrix reorganization, promote better graft integration, and achieve full reconstruction of damaged ACL.


Nilabh S Kajave, Trevor Schmitt, Nashaita Y Patrawalla, Vipuil Kishore. Design-Build-Validate Strategy to 3D Print Bioglass Gradients for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Enthesis Reconstruction. Tissue engineering. Part C, Methods. 2022 Apr;28(4):158-167

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PMID: 35357966

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