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Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 8;6:36399. doi: 10.1038/srep36399.

Bone augmentation after ectopic implantation of a cell-free collagen-hydroxyapatite scaffold in the mouse.

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IOM Ricerca, Viagrande, Italy.
Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, Physiology Section, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Advanced Technologies, G.F. Ingrassia, "Policlinico Vittorio Emanuele", Anatomic Pathology Section, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.
Finceramica Faenza, Faenza, Italy.
Department of Experimental Oncology, Mediterranean Institute of Oncology, Viagrande, Italy.


The bone grafting is the classical way to treat large bone defects. Among the available techniques, autologous bone grafting is still the most used but, however, it can cause complications such as infection and donor site morbidity. Alternative and innovative methods rely on the development of biomaterials mimicking the structure and properties of natural bone. In this study, we characterized a cell-free scaffold, which was subcutaneously implanted in mice and then analyzed both in vivo and ex vivo after 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 weeks, respectively. Two types of biomaterials, made of either collagen alone or collagen plus magnesium-enriched hydroxyapatite have been used. The results indicate that bone augmentation and angiogenesis could spontaneously occur into the biomaterial, probably by the recruitment of host cells, and that the composition of the scaffolds is crucial. In particular, the biomaterial more closely mimicking the native bone drives the process of bone augmentation more efficiently. Gene expression analysis and immunohistochemistry demonstrate the expression of typical markers of osteogenesis by the host cells populating the scaffold. Our data suggest that this biomaterial could represent a promising tool for the reconstruction of large bone defects, without using exogenous living cells or growth factors.

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