Evaluation of a hydrogel-fiber composite for ACL tissue engineering

Joseph W. Freeman, Mia D. Woods, Damond A. Cromer, Emmanuel C. Ekwueme, Tea Andric, Emmanuel A. Atiemo, Christian H. Bijoux, Cato T. Laurencin

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47 Scopus citations


The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is necessary for normal knee stability and movement. Unfortunately the ACL is also the most frequently injured ligament of the knee with severe disruptions requiring surgical intervention. In response to this, tissue engineering has emerged as an option for ACL replacement and repair. In this study we present a novel hydrogel-fibrous scaffold as a potential option for ACL replacement. The scaffold was composed of PLLA fibers, in a previously evaluated braid-twist structure, combined with a polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogelto improve viscoelastic properties. Both hydrogel concentration (10%, 15%, and 20%) and amount of hydrogel (soaking the fibrous scaffold in hydrogel solution or encasing the scaffold in a block of hydrogel) were evaluated. It was found that the braid-twist scaffold had a greater porosity and larger number of pores above 100 γm than braided scaffolds with the same braiding angle. After testing for their effects on swelling, fiber degradation, and protein release, as well as viscoelastic and tensile testing (when combined with fibrous scaffolds), it was found that the composite scaffold soaked in 10% hydrogel had the best chemical release and mechanical properties. The optimized structure behaved similarly to natural ligament in tension with the addition of the hydrogel decreasing the ultimate tensile stress (UTS), but the UTS was still comparable to natural ACL. In addition, cellular studies showed that the hydrogel-PLLA fiber composite supported fibroblast growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-699
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 24 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Ligament
  • Stress relaxation
  • Tensile
  • Tissue engineering

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  • Cite this

    Freeman, J. W., Woods, M. D., Cromer, D. A., Ekwueme, E. C., Andric, T., Atiemo, E. A., Bijoux, C. H., & Laurencin, C. T. (2011). Evaluation of a hydrogel-fiber composite for ACL tissue engineering. Journal of Biomechanics, 44(4), 694-699. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.10.043