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J Bone Miner Res. 2012 Jun;27(6):1275-88. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.1589.

Porous scaffold architecture guides tissue formation.

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Julius Wolff Institute and Center for Musculoskeletal Surgery, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow Klinikum, Institutsgebäude Süd/Südstraße 2, Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin, Germany.


Critical-sized bone defect regeneration is a remaining clinical concern. Numerous scaffold-based strategies are currently being investigated to enable in vivo bone defect healing. However, a deeper understanding of how a scaffold influences the tissue formation process and how this compares to endogenous bone formation or to regular fracture healing is missing. It is hypothesized that the porous scaffold architecture can serve as a guiding substrate to enable the formation of a structured fibrous network as a prerequirement for later bone formation. An ovine, tibial, 30-mm critical-sized defect is used as a model system to better understand the effect of the scaffold architecture on cell organization, fibrous tissue, and mineralized tissue formation mechanisms in vivo. Tissue regeneration patterns within two geometrically distinct macroscopic regions of a specific scaffold design, the scaffold wall and the endosteal cavity, are compared with tissue formation in an empty defect (negative control) and with cortical bone (positive control). Histology, backscattered electron imaging, scanning small-angle X-ray scattering, and nanoindentation are used to assess the morphology of fibrous and mineralized tissue, to measure the average mineral particle thickness and the degree of alignment, and to map the local elastic indentation modulus. The scaffold proves to function as a guiding substrate to the tissue formation process. It enables the arrangement of a structured fibrous tissue across the entire defect, which acts as a secondary supporting network for cells. Mineralization can then initiate along the fibrous network, resulting in bone ingrowth into a critical-sized defect, although not in complete bridging of the defect. The fibrous network morphology, which in turn is guided by the scaffold architecture, influences the microstructure of the newly formed bone. These results allow a deeper understanding of the mode of mineral tissue formation and the way this is influenced by the scaffold architecture.

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