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Icariin Promotes Tendon-Bone Healing during Repair of Rotator Cuff Tears: A Biomechanical and Histological Study.

ABSTRACT

To investigate whether the systematic administration of icariin (ICA) promotes tendon-bone healing after rotator cuff reconstruction in vivo, a total of 64 male Sprague Dawley rats were used in a rotator cuff injury model and underwent rotator cuff reconstruction (bone tunnel suture fixation). Rats from the ICA group (n = 32) were gavage-fed daily with ICA at 0.125 mg/g, while rats in the control group (n = 32) received saline only. Micro-computed tomography, biomechanical tests, serum ELISA (calcium; Ca, alkaline phosphatase; AP, osteocalcin; OCN) and histological examinations (Safranin O and Fast Green staining, type I, II and III collagen (Col1, Col2, and Col3), CD31, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) were analyzed two and four weeks after surgery. In the ICA group, the serum levels of AP and OCN were higher than in the control group. More Col1-, Col2-, CD31-, and VEGF-positive cells, together with a greater degree of osteogenesis, were detected in the ICA group compared with the control group. During mechanical testing, the ICA group showed a significantly higher ultimate failure load than the control group at both two and four weeks. Our results indicate that the systematic administration of ICA could promote angiogenesis and tendon-bone healing after rotator cuff reconstruction, with superior mechanical strength compared with the controls. Treatment for rotator cuff injury using systematically-administered ICA could be a promising strategy.