The Development of a Bioreactor for the Tissue Engineering of Anterior Cruciate Ligaments

  • Mark Mitchell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a major ligament within the knee joint. Its role is to provide stability and maintain the physiological kinetics and kinematics of the joint. ACL injuries are common as a result of sporting and traffic accidents and current therapeutic options do not fully restore the joint kinetics and kinematics. As such, patients often suffer from increased joint laxity and joint pain following an ACL reconstruction and this can lead to secondary problems such as osteoarthritis. It is believed that improving the ACL graft could help restore the normal kinetics and kinematics of the knee joint and hence postpone or prevent the onset of primary and secondary problems. Tissue engineering has the potential to provide functional tissue to repair or replace injured or diseased tissues in the patient. The ACL is a tissue which could benefit from such developments and thus improve the success of the reconstruction. However, the ACl is a complex structure made up of a highly orientated collagen hierarchy which experiences three dimensional loading in vivo. For an engineered tissue to be functional it is necessary for this orientated structure to be replicated. The appropriate structure is achieved by replication of the in vivo ACL strain pattern which requires combined tensile and torsional loading. Current custommade and commercially available bioreactors have not been able to fully replicate this motion with the necessary feedback and monitoring of mechanical parameters. The aim of this project was to develop a novel bioreactor with physiological mechanical conditioning for the tissue engineering of an anterior cruciate ligament. A bioreactor capable of applying complex tensile and torsional loading to a developing ACL was designed, manufactured and validated. The bioreactor which has been developed is a novel research tool which allows the effect of a number of parameters to be investigated in a 3D loading environment. It can be used for the engineering of connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons and has the potential to be adapted for use with other musculoskeletal tissues such as bone. It could also be used for research to understand the processes involved in the growth and development of tissues.
Date of Award1 May 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorSabina Gheduzzi (Supervisor) & Tony Miles (Supervisor)


  • tissue engineering
  • ligament
  • ACL
  • bioreactor

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