Extensive clinical and laboratory studies have demonstrated that growth factors accelerate and modulate the wound-healing process. The purpose of this experiment was to apply the principles of growth factor-enhanced wound healing to an in vitro rat tendon model. A method was developed for covalently binding a biologically active peptide to nonabsorbable braided polyester suture (Mersilene). Sutures were treated with various growth factors, which included epidermal growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, and keratinocyte growth factor, and bovine serum albumin was the control. Spectrophotometric assessment was used to verify the peptide's activity. The suture was subsequently placed through individual harvested rat flexor tendons, which were arranged in standard tissue culture conditions. Markedly increased cellular proliferation along the suture was appreciated on the tendons treated with epidermal growth factor-bound suture. Platelet- derived growth factor was shown to have a lesser effect, whereas keratinocyte growth factor had no visible effect on cellular proliferation. This preliminary study describes a new technique of binding growth factors to suture. It also demonstrates that the presence of growth factors may help facilitate flexor tendon healing and allow early postoperative rehabilitation to decrease adhesion formation.
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