Sterilization with electron beam irradiation influences the biomechanical properties and the early remodeling of tendon allografts for reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
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- Schmidt, T., Hoburg, A., Broziat, C. et al. Cell Tissue Bank (2012) 13: 387. doi:10.1007/s10561-011-9289-6
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Although allografts for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) replacement have shown advantages compared to autografts, their use is limited due to the risk of disease transmission and the limitations of available sterilization methods. Gamma sterilization has shown detrimental effects on graft properties at the high doses required for sufficient pathogen inactivation. In our previous in vitro study on human patellar tendon allografts, Electron beam (Ebeam) irradiation showed less detrimental effects compared to gamma sterilization (Hoburg et al. in Am J Sports Med 38(6):1134–1140, 2010). To investigate the biological healing and restoration of the mechanical properties of a 34 kGy Ebeam treated tendon allograft twenty-four sheep underwent ACL replacement with either a 34 kGy Ebeam treated allograft or a non-sterilized fresh frozen allograft. Biomechanical testing of stiffness, ultimate failure load and AP-laxity as well as histological analysis to investigate cell, vessel and myofibroblast-density were performed after 6 and 12 weeks. Native sheep ACL and hamstring tendons (HAT, each n = 9) served as controls. The results of a previous study analyzing the remodeling of fresh frozen allografts (n = 12) and autografts (Auto, n = 18) with the same study design were also included in the analysis. Statistics were performed using Mann–Whitney U test followed by Bonferroni-Holm correction. Results showed significantly decreased biomechanical properties during the early remodeling period in Ebeam treated grafts and this was accompanied with an increased remodeling activity. There was no recovery of biomechanical function from 6 to 12 weeks in this group in contrast to the results observed in fresh frozen allografts and autografts. Therefore, high dose Ebeam irradiation investigated in this paper cannot be recommended for soft tissue allograft sterilization.