Fibrin gels are a promising material for use in promoting bone repair and regeneration due to their ease of implant formation, tailorability, biocompatibility, and degradation by natural processes. However, these materials lack necessary osteoconductivity to nucleate calcium, integrate with surrounding bone, and promote bone formation. Polymeric substrata formed from poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG) are widely used in bone tissue engineering. A carbonated apatite layer of bone-like mineral can be successfully grown on the surface of PLG microspheres after a multiday incubation process in modified simulated body fluid. Such coatings improve the osteoconductivity of the polymer, provide nucleation sites for cell-secreted calcium, and enhance the potential osseointegration with host tissue. We examined the capacity of mineralized polymeric microspheres suspended within fibrin hydrogels to enhance the osteoconductivity of fibrin gels and increase the osteogenic potential of these materials. The inclusion of microparticles, both nonmineralized and mineralized, reduced the capacity of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to contract the gel. When cultured in osteogenic media, we detected a near linear increase in both calcium and phosphate incorporation in gels containing mineralized microspheres and entrapped MSCs. The osteoconductivity of acellular fibrin gels with mineralized and nonmineralized microspheres was assessed in a rodent calvarial bone defect over 12 weeks. Compared to untreated rodent calvarial bone defects, we detected significant increases in early vascularization when treated with fibrin gels, with greater vascularization, on average, occurring with gels containing microspheres. We detected a trend for increased bone mineral density in gels containing mineralized microspheres after 12 weeks. These findings demonstrate that the osteoconductivity of fibrin gels can be increased by inclusion of mineralized microspheres, but additional signals may be required to rapidly accelerate bone repair.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering