The development of heparin-based materials for tissue engineering applications to treat rotator cuff tendon injuries
Seto, Song P.
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Surgical repair of torn rotator cuff tendons have a high rate of failure and does not address the underlying pathophysiology. Tissue engineering strategies, employing the use of multipotent progenitor cells or growth factors, represent potential therapies to improve the outcome of rotator cuff surgery. The use of glycosaminoglycan-based biomaterials in these therapies may enhance the effectiveness of cell and growth factor delivery techniques. Furthermore, understanding the cellular and molecular mediators in tendon overuse can help elucidate the causes of tendon degeneration. Thus the overall goals of this dissertation were to 1) develop heparin-based biomaterials to enhance cell pre-culture and maintain growth factor bioactivity and 2) characterize the histological and enzymatic changes in a supraspinatus tendon overuse model. To investigate the use of heparin in enhancing dynamic signaling, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were encapsulated in heparin-containing hydrogels and evaluated for differentiation markers when cocultured with a small population of differentiated cells. To probe the effect of sulfation of heparin on the interactions with protein, selectively desulfated heparin species were synthesized and evaluated for their ability to bind and protect proteins. Finally, to develop a tendon overuse model that can become a test bed for testing future targeted therapeutics, an animal model was evaluated for tissue damage and protease activity. Together these studies represent a multi-pronged approach to understanding how tendon tissues become degenerative and for developing technologies to improve the biological fixation of tendon to bone in order to reduce the need for revision surgeries.