Anatomical Design and Production of a Novel 3-Dimensional Co-Culture System Replicating the Human Flexor Digitorum Profundus Enthesis

Jeremy W Mortimer, Philippa A Rust, Jennifer Z Paxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The enthesis, the specialized junction between tendon and bone, is a common site of injury. Although notoriously difficult to repair, advances in interfacial tissue engineering techniques are being developed for restorative function. Most notably are 3D in vitro co-culture models, built to recreate the complex heterogeneity of the native enthesis. While cell and matrix properties are often considered, there has been little attention given to native enthesis anatomical morphometrics and replicating these to enhance clinical relevance. This study focuses on the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) tendon enthesis and, by combining anatomical morphometrics with computer-aided design, demonstrates the design and construction of an accurate and scalable model of the FDP enthesis. Bespoke 3D-printed mould inserts were fabricated based on the size, shape and insertion angle of the FDP enthesis. Then, silicone culture moulds were created, enabling the production of bespoke anatomical culture zones for an in vitro FDP enthesis model. The validity of the model has been confirmed using brushite cement scaffolds seeded with osteoblasts (bone) and fibrin hydrogel scaffolds seeded with fibroblasts (tendon) in individual studies with cells from either human or rat origin. This novel approach allows a bespoke anatomical design for enthesis repair and should be applied to future studies in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalJournal of Anatomy
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2024

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