Three-Dimensional Bioprinting of a Structure-, Composition-, and Mechanics-Graded Biomimetic Scaffold Coated with Specific Decellularized Extracellular Matrix to Improve the Tendon-to-Bone Healing

ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2023 Volume 15, Issue 24, Pages 28964-28980

Healing of a damaged tendon-to-bone enthesis occurs through the formation of fibrovascular scar tissue with greatly compromised histological and biomechanical properties instead of the regeneration of a new enthesis due to the lack of graded tissue-engineering zones in the interface during the healing process. In the present study, a structure-, composition-, and mechanics-graded biomimetic scaffold (GBS) coated with specific decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) (GBS-E) aimed to enhance its cellular differentiation inducibilities was fabricated using a three-dimensional (3-D) bioprinting technique. In vitro cellular differentiation studies showed that from the tendon-engineering zone to the bone-engineering zone in the GBS, the tenogenic differentiation inducibility decreased in correspondence with an increase in the osteogenic differentiation inducibility. The chondrogenic differentiation inducibility peaked in the middle, which was in consistent with the graded cellular phenotypes observed in a native tendon-to-bone enthesis, while specific dECM coating from the tendon-engineering zone to the bone-engineering zone (tendon-, cartilage-, and bone-derived dECM, respectively) further enhanced its cellular differentiation inducibilities (GBS-E). In a rabbit rotator cuff tear model, histological analysis showed that the GBS-E group exhibited well-graded tendon-to-bone differentiated properties in the repaired interface that was similar to a native tendon-to-bone enthesis at 16 weeks. Moreover, the biomechanical properties in the GBS-E group were also significantly higher than those in other groups at 16 weeks. Therefore, our findings suggested a promising tissue-engineering strategy for the regeneration of a complex enthesis using a three-dimensional bioprinting technique.