There is an essential demand for developing biocompatible grafts for knee anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). This study investigated cell infiltration into decellularized bovine tendon xenografts using a rat knee ACLR model. Twelve-week-old Sprague–Dawley rats were used. At weeks 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 26, and 52 (each period, n = 6) after ACLR, rats receiving decellularized bovine tendon (group D, n = 42) or autologous tendon (group A, n = 42) as grafts underwent peritibial bone tunnel bone mineral density (BMD), histological, and immunohistological assessments. BMD increased over time in both the groups until week 16 and then remained unchanged without exhibiting significant differences between the groups. Initially, cellularity in group D was lower than that in group A; however, by weeks 4–8, both the groups were comparable to the native anterior cruciate ligament group and cellularity remained unchanged until week 52. Initially, group A had more M1 macrophages, indicating inflammation, whereas group D had more M2 macrophages, indicating tissue regeneration. Nonetheless, the M1 and M2 macrophage counts of both the groups were comparable at most times. This study revealed the excellent recellularization and tendon–bone integration abilities of decellularized tendons using a cross-species model.
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