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J Biomed Mater Res. 2002 Sep 5;61(3):421-9.

The sintered microsphere matrix for bone tissue engineering: in vitro osteoconductivity studies.

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  • 1Center for Advanced Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


A tissue engineering approach has been used to design three-dimensional synthetic matrices for bone repair. The osteoconductivity and degradation profile of a novel polymeric bone-graft substitute was evaluated in an in vitro setting. Using the copolymer poly(lactide-co-glycolide) [PLAGA], a sintering technique based on microsphere technology was used to fabricate three-dimensional porous scaffolds for bone regeneration. Osteoblasts and fibroblasts were seeded onto a 50:50 PLAGA scaffold. Morphologic evaluation through scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that both cell types attached and spread over the scaffold. Cells migrated through the matrix using cytoplasmic extensions to bridge the structure. Cross-sectional images indicated that cellular proliferation had penetrated into the matrix approximately 700 microm from the surface. Examination of the surfaces of cell/matrix constructs demonstrated that cellular proliferation had encompassed the pores of the matrix by 14 days of cell culture. With the aim of optimizing polymer composition and polymer molecular weight, a degradation study was conducted utilizing the matrix. The results demonstrate that degradation of the sintered matrix is dependent on molecular weight, copolymer ratio, and pore volume. From this data, it was determined that 75:25 PLAGA with an initial molecular weight of 100,000 has an optimal degradation profile. These studies show that the sintered microsphere matrix has an osteoconductive structure capable of functioning as a cellular scaffold with a degradation profile suitable for bone regeneration.

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