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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2007 Sep-Oct;16(5 Suppl):S215-21.

The effect of growth differentiation factor-5-coated sutures on tendon repair in a rat model.

By: Dines JS, Weber L, Razzano P, Prajapati R, Timmer M, Bowman S, Bonasser L, Dines DM, Grande DP.

Tendon ruptures are common injuries that are often treated surgically. Growth Differentiation Factor-5 (GDF-5) has been shown to accelerate tendon healing with varying degrees of success. We used a novel technique to apply recombinant human GDF-5 (rhGDF-5) to suture and hypothesized that controlled, local delivery of rhGDF-5 can be used to enhance tendon repair. Tendons of 92 rats were transected and repaired with sutures. All researchers were blinded to the following treatment groups (24 rats in each group): 0 rhGDF (control), 24 ng/cm rhGDF, 55 ng/cm rhGDF, and 556 ng/cm rhGDF. Rats were euthanized at 3 weeks (n = 48) and at 6 weeks (n = 48). Sutures were coated with rhGDF-5 using a novel dip-coat technique. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay confirmed consistent and reproducible delivery of rhGDF-5. Within each group, 8 were tested biomechanically, and 4 were assessed histologically. Histologic grading at 3 weeks showed improved healing in tendons repaired with coated suture versus controls. By 6 weeks, there were no significant differences. At 3 weeks, minimal isolated cartilage formation was observed; 6-week samples showed more extensive presence, typically surrounding suture fibers. At 3 weeks, tendons repaired with rhGDF-5-coated sutures resulted in significantly higher ultimate tensile load and stiffness compared with control sutures (P < .05) At 6 weeks, there were no significant differences in the mechanical properties of repaired tendons. At 3 weeks, rhGDF-5 induced significant tendon hypertrophy that was more pronounced than at 6 weeks. In addition, tendons repaired with rhGDF-5 showed an increased rate of healing versus control repairs at 3 weeks. This study showed that a novel dip-coating technique can be used to deliver growth factors in varying concentrations to local repair sites to accelerate tendon healing.

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