Rotator cuff repair augmentation using osteoinductive growth factors

Rotator cuff injuries (RCIs) present a major health problem due to high incidences of degenerative tears greater than 3 cm and prevalence of re-tears following surgical procedures. Since healing and functional restoration relies upon bone ingrowth into the tendon, it is hypothesised that sustained delivery of osteoinductive factors including bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), specifically BMP2–7, may significantly improve RCI tendon-bone healing. Here, growth factor candidates and delivery mechanisms are reviewed, specifically for improved RCI healing through enhanced bone ingrowth. In addition to BMPs, other potentially osteogenic factors including platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), transforming growth beta isoforms (TGF-β1 and TGF-3) and parathyroid hormone (PTH) are evaluated since they can induce bone formation at the healing tendon attachment site. Several challenges must be addressed prior to clinical translation. The majority of published studies utilise in vivo animal models. In general, BMP-7 demonstrates a stronger stimulating effect when compared to BMP-2; the reported effectiveness of BMP-2 is often conflicting. Alternative factors, including PDGF and PTH, also demonstrate potential for assisting bone growth in enthesis healing. The use of sustained and biomimetic delivery systems appears to have the greatest positive effects. Some studies have demonstrated a dose-dependent effect, in conjunction with varying age, indicating that stratified therapies could be a viable solution for RCI healing. To adequately resolve potential treatments for RCI, further expanded and correlated animal trials must be undertaken, and indicative human trials are required with consideration of surgical and patient-specific influences.