UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type



Molecular, Cellular, and Tissue Engineering | Surgery | Surgical Procedures, Operative


This review describes a novel method developed for processing porcine tendon and other ligament implants that enables in situ remodeling into autologous ligaments in humans. The method differs from methods using extracellular matrices (ECMs) that provide postoperative orthobiological support (i.e., augmentation grafts) for healing of injured ligaments, in that the porcine bone-patellar-tendon-bone itself serves as the graft replacing ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The method allows for gradual remodeling of porcine tendon into autologous human ACL while maintaining the biomechanical integrity. The method was first evaluated in a preclinical model of monkeys and subsequently in patients. The method overcomes detrimental effects of the natural anti-Gal antibody and harnesses anti-non-gal antibodies for the remodeling process in two steps: Step 1. Elimination of alpha-gal epitopes-this epitope that is abundant in pigs (as in other nonprimate mammals) binds the natural anti-Gal antibody, which is the most abundant natural antibody in humans. This interaction, which can induce fast resorption of the porcine implant, is avoided by enzymatic elimination of alpha-gal epitopes from the implant with recombinant alpha-galactosidase. Step 2. Partial cross-linking of porcine tendon with glutaraldehyde-this cross-linking generates covalent bonds in the ECM, which slow infiltration of macrophages into the implant. Anti-non-gal antibodies are produced in recipients against the multiple porcine antigenic proteins and proteoglycans because of sequence differences between human and porcine homologous proteins. Anti-non-gal antibodies bind to the implant ECM, recruit macrophages, and induce the implant destruction by directing proteolytic activity of macrophages. Partial cross-linking of the tendon ECM decreases the extent of macrophage infiltration and degradation of the implant and enables concomitant infiltration of fibroblasts that follow the infiltrating macrophages. These fibroblasts align with the implant collagen fibers and secrete their own collagen and other ECM proteins, which gradually remodel the porcine tendon into human ACL. This ligamentization process lasts approximately 2 years and the biomechanical integrity of the graft is maintained throughout the whole period. These studies are the first, and so far the only, to demonstrate remodeling of porcine tendon implants into permanently functional autologous ACL in humans.


anterior cruciate ligament implants, anti-Gal, anti-non-gal, porcine tendon, xenotransplantation, α-galactosidase

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © Kevin R. Stone et al. 2017; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. This Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2017 Aug;23(4):412-419. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEB.2016.0332. Epub 2017 Feb 14. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Tissue engineering. Part B, Reviews

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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