Author(s): Chang J, Thunder R, Most D, Longaker MT, Lineaweaver WC
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Abstract The postoperative outcome of hand flexor tendon repair remains limited by tendon adhesions that prevent normal range of motion. Recent studies using in situ hybridization techniques have implicated transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-beta1) in both intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms of repair. TGF-beta1 is a growth factor that plays multiple roles in wound healing and has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of excessive scar formation. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of neutralizing antibody to TGF-beta1 in a rabbit zone II flexor tendon wound-healing model. Twenty-two adult New Zealand White rabbits underwent complete transection of the middle digit flexor digitorum profundus tendon in zone II. The tendons were immediately repaired and received intraoperative infiltration of one of the following substances: (1) control phosphate-buffered saline; (2) 50 microg neutralizing antibody to TGF-beta1; (3) 50 microg each of neutralizing antibody to TGF-beta1 and to TGF-beta2. Eight rabbits that had not been operated on underwent analysis for determination of normal flexion range of motion at their proximal and distal interphalangeal joints, using a 1.2-N axial load applied to the flexor digitorum profundus tendon. All rabbits that had been operated on were placed in casts for 8 weeks to allow maximal tendon adhesion and were then killed to determine their flexion range of motion. Statistical analysis was performed using the Student's unpaired t test. When a 1.2-N load was used on rabbit forepaws that had not been operated on, normal combined flexion range of motion at the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints was 93+/-6 degrees. Previous immobilization in casts did not reduce the range of motion in these forepaws (93+/-4 degrees). In the experimental groups, complete transection and repair of the flexor digitorum profundus tendon with infiltration of control phosphate-buffered saline solution resulted in significantly decreased range of motion between the proximal and distal phalanges [15+/-6 degrees (n = 8)]. However, in the tendon repairs infiltrated with neutralizing antibody to TGF-beta1, flexion range of motion increased to 32+/-9 degrees (n = 7; p = 0.002). Interestingly, a combination of neutralizing antibody to TGF-beta1 and that to TGF-beta2 did not improve postoperative range of motion [18+/-4 degrees (n = 7; p = 0.234)]. These data demonstrate that (1) the rabbit flexor tendon repair model is useful for quantifying tendon scar formation on the basis of degrees of flexion between proximal and distal phalanges; (2) intraoperative infiltration of neutralizing antibody to TGF-beta1 improves flexor tendon excursion; and (3) simultaneous infiltration of neutralizing antibody to TGF-beta2 nullifies this effect. Because TGF-beta1 is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of excessive scar formation, the findings presented here suggest that intraoperative biochemical modulation of TGF-beta1 levels limits flexor tendon adhesion formation.
This article was published in Plast Reconstr Surg
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy