Current vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) transplantation protocols rely upon life-long immune modulation to maintain tissue perfusion. Alternatively, bone-only VCA viability may be maintained in small animal models using surgical angiogenesis from implanted autogenous vessels to develop a neoangiogenic bone circulation that will not be rejected. This study tests the method's efficacy in a large animal model as a bridge to clinical practice, quantifying the remodeling and mechanical properties of porcine tibial VCAs. A segmental tibial defect was reconstructed in Yucatan miniature swine by transplantation of a matched tibia segment from an immunologically mismatched donor. Microsurgical repair of nutrient vessels was performed in all pigs, with simultaneous intramedullary placement of an autogenous arteriovenous (AV) bundle in Group 2. Group 1 served as a no-angiogenesis control. All received 2 weeks of immunosuppression. After 16 weeks, micro-CT and histomorphometric analyses were used to evaluate healing and remodeling. Axial compression and nanoindentation studies evaluated bone mechanical properties. Micro-CT analysis demonstrated significantly more new bone formation and bone remodeling at the distal allotransplant/recipient junction and on the endosteal surfaces of Group 2 tibias (p = 0.03). Elastic modulus and hardness were not adversely affected by angiogenesis. The combination of 2 weeks of immunosuppression and autogenous AV-bundle implantation within a microsurgically transplanted tibial allotransplant permitted long-term allotransplant survival over the study period of 16 weeks in this large animal model. Angiogenesis increased bone formation and remodeling without adverse mechanical effects. The method may allow future composite-tissue allotransplantation of bone without the risks associated with long-term immunosuppression.

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Journal of Orthopaedic Research: a journal for musculoskeletal investigation
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Kotsougiani, D., Hundepool, C., Bulstra, L., Friedrich, P., Shin, A. Y., & Bishop, A. (2017). Recipient-derived angiogenesis with short term immunosuppression increases bone remodeling in bone vascularized composite allotransplantation: A pilot study in a swine tibial defect model. Journal of Orthopaedic Research: a journal for musculoskeletal investigation, 35(6), 1242–1249. doi:10.1002/jor.23378