SAGE Journals

Augmentation of Tendon Graft–Bone Tunnel Interface Healing by Use of Bioactive Platelet-Rich Fibrin Scaffolds

Posted on 2020-03-24 - 12:10

Platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) is a bioactive biomaterial wherein cytokines are enmeshed within the interconnecting fibrin network. PRF can be fabricated into a patch to augment healing of the interface between a tendon graft and bone tunnel.


The bioactivity of a PRF scaffold is preserved after PRF is mechanically compressed into a patch. A bioactive PRF patch could promote the incorporation of a tendon graft within the bone tunnel through the formation of a tendon-bone healing zone composed of both fibrocartilaginous tissue and new bone.

Study Design:

Controlled laboratory study.


Bioactivity of PRF was evaluated through treatment of rabbit tenocytes with PRF-conditioned medium and cultivation of cells on a PRF patch. Cellular morphologic features, viability, and differentiation were analyzed accordingly. In an animal study, a rabbit tendon-bone healing model was established through use of New Zealand White rabbits. The implanted tendon graft was enveloped circumferentially with a bioactive PRF patch before being pulled through a bone tunnel in the proximal tibia. Micro–computed tomography (micro-CT) imaging and histological and biomechanical analyses of the tendon-bone interface were performed at 12 weeks postoperatively.


PRF improved the viability of the cultured tenocytes. The effects of PRF on in vitro mineralization of tenocytes were comparable with the effects of standard culture medium. The gene expressions of type I collagen and osteopontin were upregulated upon PRF treatment. For the in vivo study, micro-CT images revealed significant new bone synthesis at the tendon-bone interface in the PRF-enveloped group. The tendon-bone healing zone was characterized by abundant fibrocartilage tissue and new bone formation as demonstrated by histological analysis. Biomechanical testing showed significantly higher ultimate loads in the PRF-enveloped group.


Bioactive PRF could effectively augment healing of tendon graft to bone by inducing the formation of a transitional tendon-bone healing zone composed of fibrocartilage and bone.

Clinical Relevance:

Complete healing of the tendon graft in the bone tunnel is a prerequisite for successful ligament reconstruction, which would allow early and aggressive rehabilitation and rapid return to preinjury activity level. From a translational standpoint, the PRF-augmented healing in this rabbit animal model showed a promising biological approach to enhance tendon graft to bone healing via promotion of the functional anchorage between the 2 different materials.


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