Biomaterials as Tendon and Ligament Substitutes: Current Developments

  • Mariana L. Santos
  • Márcia T. Rodrigues
  • Rui M. A. Domingues
  • Rui Luís Reis
  • Manuela E. GomesEmail author
Part of the Studies in Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials book series (SMTEB, volume 21)


Tendon and ligament have specialized dynamic microenvironment characterized by a complex hierarchical extracellular matrix essential for tissue functionality, and responsible to be an instructive niche for resident cells. Among musculoskeletal diseases, tendon/ligament injuries often result in pain, substantial tissue morbidity, and disability, affecting athletes, active working people and elder population. This represents not only a major healthcare problem but it implies considerable social and economic hurdles. Current treatments are based on the replacement and/or augmentation of the damaged tissue with severe associated limitations. Thus, it is evident the clinical challenge and emergent need to recreate native tissue features and regenerate damaged tissues. In this context, the design and development of anisotropic bioengineered systems with potential to recapitulate the hierarchical architecture and organization of tendons and ligaments from nano to macro scale will be discussed in this chapter. Special attention will be given to the state-of-the-art fabrication techniques, namely spinning and electrochemical alignment techniques to address the demanding requirements for tendon substitutes, particularly concerning the importance of biomechanical and structural cues of these tissues. Moreover, the poor innate regeneration ability related to the low cellularity and vascularization of tendons and ligaments also anticipates the importance of cell based strategies, particularly on the stem cells role for the success of tissue engineered therapies. In summary, this chapter provides a general overview on tendon and ligaments physiology and current conventional treatments for injuries caused by trauma and/or disease. Moreover, this chapter presents tissue engineering approaches as an alternative to overcome the limitations of current therapies, focusing on the discussion about scaffolds design for tissue substitutes to meet the regenerative medicine challenges towards the functional restoration of damaged or degenerated tendon and ligament tissues.


Anterior Cruciate Ligament Ultimate Tensile Strength Nanofibrous Scaffold Tendon Cell Electrospun Scaffold 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology for the post-doctoral grant (SFRH/BPD/111729/2015) and for the projects Recognize (UTAP-ICDT/CTM-BIO/0023/2014) and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007038.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariana L. Santos
    • 1
    • 2
  • Márcia T. Rodrigues
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rui M. A. Domingues
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rui Luís Reis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Manuela E. Gomes
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.3B’s Research Group, Biomaterials, Biodegradables and BiomimeticsEuropean Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative MedicineBarco GMRPortugal
  2. 2.ICVS/3B’s—PT Government Associate LaboratoryBraga, GuimarãesPortugal

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