Fiber-aligned polymer scaffolds for rotator cuff repair in a rat model

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2012 Feb;21(2):245-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2011.10.021.


Background: Repair techniques of rotator cuff tendon tears have improved in recent years; nonetheless, the failure rate remains high. Despite the availability of various graft materials for repair augmentation, there has yet to be a biomechanical study using fiber-aligned scaffolds in vivo. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of fiber-aligned nanofibrous polymer scaffolds as a potential treatment-delivery vehicle in a rat rotator cuff injury model.

Materials and methods: Scaffolds with and without sacrificial fibers were fabricated via electrospinning and implanted to augment supraspinatus repair in rats. Repairs without scaffold augmentation were also performed to serve as controls. Rats were sacrificed at 4 and 8 weeks postoperatively, and repairs were evaluated histologically and biomechanically.

Results: Both scaffold formulations remained in place, with more noticeable cellular infiltration and colonization at 4 and 8 weeks after injury and repair for scaffolds lacking sacrificial fibers. Specimens with scaffolds were larger in cross-sectional area compared with controls. Biomechanical testing revealed no significant differences in structural properties between the groups. Some apparent material properties were significantly reduced in the scaffold groups. These reductions were due to increases in cross-sectional area, most likely caused by the extra thickness of the implanted scaffold material. No differences were observed between the 2 scaffold groups.

Conclusions: No adverse effect of surgical implantation of overlaid fiber-aligned scaffolds on structural properties of supraspinatus tendons in rat rotator cuff repair was demonstrated, validating this model as a platform for targeted delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Procedures / instrumentation*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods
  • Polymers / pharmacology
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reference Values
  • Rotator Cuff / pathology
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery*
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Tensile Strength
  • Tissue Scaffolds*
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Polymers