An acellular biologic scaffold does not regenerate appreciable de novo muscle tissue in rat models of volumetric muscle loss injury.

PMID 26256250


Extracellular matrix (ECM) derived scaffolds continue to be investigated for the treatment of volumetric muscle loss (VML) injuries. Clinically, ECM scaffolds have been used for lower extremity VML repair; in particular, MatriStem™, a porcine urinary bladder matrix (UBM), has shown improved functional outcomes and vascularization, but limited myogenesis. However, efficacy of the scaffold for the repair of traumatic muscle injuries has not been examined systematically. In this study, we demonstrate that the porcine UBM scaffold when used to repair a rodent gastrocnemius musculotendinous junction (MTJ) and tibialis anterior (TA) VML injury does not support muscle tissue regeneration. In the MTJ model, the scaffold was completely resorbed without tissue remodeling, suggesting that the scaffold may not be suitable for the clinical repair of muscle-tendon injuries. In the TA VML injury, the scaffold remodeled into a fibrotic tissue and showed functional improvement, but not due to muscle fiber regeneration. The inclusion of physical rehabilitation also did not improve functional response or tissue remodeling. We conclude that the porcine UBM scaffold when used to treat VML injuries may hasten the functional recovery through the mechanism of scaffold mediated functional fibrosis. Thus for appreciable muscle regeneration, repair strategies that incorporate myogenic cells, vasculogenic accelerant and a myoconductive scaffold need to be developed.