Characterization of total and active matrix metalloproteinases-1, -3, and -13 synthesized and secreted by anterior cruciate ligament fibroblasts in three-dimensional collagen gels
Anterior Cruciate Ligament
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and subsequent reconstructive surgery is increasing with an estimated 200,000 reconstructions performed yearly in the United States. Current treatment requires reconstruction with autograft or allograft tissue with inherent disadvantages. The development of tissue-engineered ligament replacements or scaffolds may provide an alternative treatment method minimizing these issues. The study of ligament fibroblast catabolic and anabolic responses to mechanical and biologic stimuli in three-dimensional (3D) cell culture systems is critical to the development of such therapies. A 3D cell culture system was used to measure the total content and active forms of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-1, -3, and -13 to assess the potential role of the mechanical environment in regulation of matrix turnover by ligament fibroblasts. The production, retention, and secretion of MMPs by ACL fibroblasts in 3D culture were measured over a 14-day period. The total MMP content and MMP activity were determined. The level of all MMPs studied increased over 7-10 days and then reached a steady state or decreased slightly in both the collagen gels and the media. This system will now permit the study of externally applied cyclic and static strains, strain deprivation, and the potential combined role of the cytoskeleton and MMPs in matrix turnover in ligaments.