Comparison of bovine collagen xenografts to autografts in the rabbit

J. C. Tauro, J. R. Parsons, J. Ricci, H. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of bovine tendon as a xenograft material in humans is attractive because of its ready availability and favorable mechanical characteristics. Previous research has shown that the fibroblasts and some extracellular proteoglycans and glycoproteins, not the collagen matrix itself, in bovine tendon are primarily responsible for its antigenicity. Various attempts have been made to decrease the antigenicity of these grafts. A chloroform/methanol (CM) extraction procedure has been developed that selectively removes the fibroblasts from bovine tendon without destroying the collagen matrix. The mechanical, immunologic, and local host tissue responses to these grafts were compared to autografts and to untreated and glutaraldehyde-treated bovine tendon xenografts. The humoral immune response to a purified bovine Type I collagen product was also studied. The central two-thirds of a rabbit Achilles tendon were replaced with a reversed autograft or an experimental graft. Histologic examination of one- and two-week specimens showed an acute inflammatory response to all grafts. Untreated grafts stimulated a severe inflammatory response and were almost completely resorbed by two weeks. Glutaraldehyde-treated grafts were encapsulated. Cellular repopulation was minimal and inflammatory response was more persistent than in the autograft and CM groups. Inflammatory response to CM-treated grafts was similar to that of autografts. The CM grafts repopulated rapidly with host cells. The mechanical strength of CM grafts was equal to autograft controls at 12 weeks. The mechanical strength of untreated and glutaraldehyde-treated grafts was significantly lower. Measurement of the humoral immune response to these grafts was conducted in an independent group of animals using an enzyme- linked immunosorbent assay. A significant antibody response to untreated, glutaraldehyde-fixed, and CM-treated grafts was detected at 30 days. Antibody titers to glutaraldehyde-fixed and untreated grafts remained elevated at 60 and 90 days. In the CM group, antibody titers decreased to the level of autograft controls by 90 days. No significant antibody response was detected toward purified bovine Type I collagen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-284
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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