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Optimally Porous And Biomechanically Compatible Scaffolds For Large-area Bone Regeneration.

A. Amini, D. Adams, C. Laurencin, S. Nukavarapu
Published 2012 · Materials Science, Medicine

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Large-area or critical-sized bone defects pose a serious challenge in orthopedic surgery, as all current treatment options present with shortcomings. Bone tissue engineering offers a more promising alternative treatment strategy. However, this approach requires mechanically stable scaffolds that support homogenous bone formation throughout the scaffold thickness. Despite advances in scaffold fabrication, current scaffold-based techniques are unable to support uniform, three-dimensional bone regeneration, and are limited to only the scaffold surface in vitro and in vivo. This is mainly because of inadequate scaffold pore sizes (<200 μm) and accessible pore volume, and the associated limited oxygen diffusion and vascular invasion. In this study, we have adopted a method combining microsphere-sintering and porogen-leaching techniques to fabricate scaffolds with an increased accessible pore volume. Of the scaffolds developed, moderately porous poly(85 lactide-co-15 glycolide) (PLGA) microsphere scaffolds were selected as most advantageous, since they retain mechanical strength in the range of human cancellous bone and display a significantly higher accessible pore volume, which is attributed to an increased percentage of larger pores (i.e., size range 200-600 μm). Unlike control scaffolds with a limited pore size and an accessible pore volume, moderately porous scaffolds displayed increased oxygen diffusion, pre-osteoblast cell infiltration, proliferation, and survival throughout the entire scaffold. Furthermore, moderately porous PLGA microsphere scaffolds displayed enhanced and homogenous mineralization in vitro. Since these newly designed moderately porous scaffolds are weight bearing, are fully osteoconductive, and have the ability to support vascularization, they may serve as effective scaffolds for large-area bone defect repair/regeneration. In addition, this study demonstrates the ability to modulate scaffold porosity and, in turn, to develop oxygen tension-controlled matrices that are effective for large-area bone regeneration.
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