Safety of Intra-Articular Implantation of Oligo[Poly(ethylene glycol) Fumarate] Scaffolds into the Rabbit Knee

Timothy J. Ewald, Justin A. Walker, Eric A. Lewallen, William H. Trousdale, Michael J. Yaszemski, Arlen D. Hanssen, Bernard F. Morrey, Andre J. Van Wijnen, Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, Mark E. Morrey, Matthew P. Abdel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Implantable biomaterials supporting extended release of pharmacologic agents may permit localized intra-articular delivery of drugs that modulate the fibrotic response to injuries and surgery. Oligo[poly (ethylene glycol)] fumarate (OPF) is an attractive organic carrier, but its safety profile within synovial joints remains unclear. Here, we assessed the safety of OPF sponges using a validated in vivo model of knee arthrofibrosis. A cohort of 102 rabbits was divided into five groups: arthrotomy only (24), arthrotomy with OPF scaffold placement (24), surgically induced contracture (24), surgically induced contracture with OPF scaffold placement (24), and control without any surgical intervention (6). Six rabbits per surgical group were sacrificed at 72 h, 2, 8, and 24 weeks. Outcomes included biomechanical testing of range of motion, histologic analysis of synovial and cartilage tissues, and scaffold degradation. Cartilage histology and biomechanical measurements were comparable between groups with and without OPF. Synovial inflammation scores were similar among most groups with a minimally elevated score in the rabbits with arthrotomy and OPF versus those with arthrotomy alone. Scores for synovial tissues in rabbits with contracture and OPF were clinically equivalent to those with contractures alone. Most animals (92%) retained scaffold fragments at 24 weeks. Thus, OPF scaffolds implanted into native or arthrofibrotic rabbit knees neither induce nor aggravate cartilage damage, synovial inflammation, or contractures. The apparent safety of OPF scaffolds suggests that they are suitable carriers for the controlled delivery of reagents into the intra-articular joint space to treat arthrofibrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-998
Number of pages8
JournalTissue Engineering - Part C: Methods
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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