Natural silk fibroin fiber scaffolds have excellent mechanical properties, but degrade slowly. In this study, we used poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA, 10:90) fibers to adjust the overall degradation rate of the scaffolds and filled them with collagen to reserve space for cell growth. Silk fibroin-PLGA (36:64) mesh scaffolds were prepared using weft-knitting, filled with type I collagen, and incubated with rabbit autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These scaffold-cells composites were implanted into rabbit Achilles tendon defects. At 16 weeks after implantation, morphological and histological observations showed formation of tendon-like tissues that expressed type I collagen mRNA and a uniformly dense distribution of collagen fibers. The maximum load of the regenerated Achilles tendon was 58.32% of normal Achilles tendon, which was significantly higher than control group without MSCs. These findings suggest that it is feasible to construct tissue engineered tendon using weft-knitted silk fibroin-PLGA fiber mesh/collagen matrix seeded with MSCs for rabbit Achilles tendon defect repair.
Keywords: Achilles tendon; bombyx mori silk; collagen; mesenchymal stem cells; poly(lactide-co-glycolide); weft-knitting.