3D microenvironment as essential element for osteoinduction by biomaterials

Pamela Habibovic, Huipin Yuan, Chantal M. van der Valk, Gert Meijer, Clemens van Blitterswijk, K. de Groot

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In order to unravel the mechanism of osteoinduction by biomaterials, in this study we investigated the influence of the specific surface area on osteoinductive properties of two types of calcium phosphate ceramics. Different surface areas of the ceramics were obtained by varying their sintering temperatures. Hydroxyapatite (HA) ceramic was sintered at 1150 and 1250 °C. Biphasic calcium phosphate (BCP) ceramic, consisting of HA and beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP), was sintered at 1100, 1150 and 1200 °C. Changes in sintering temperature did not influence the chemistry of the ceramics; HA remained pure after sintering at different temperatures and the weight ratio of HA and β-TCP in the BCP was independent of the temperature as well. Similarly, macroporosity of the ceramics was unaffected by the changes of the sintering temperature. However, microporosity (pore diameter <10 μm) significantly decreased with increasing sintering temperature. In addition to the decrease of the microporosity, the crystal size increased with increasing sintering temperature. These two effects resulted in a significant decrease of the specific surface area of the ceramics with increasing sintering temperatures. Samples of HA1150, HA1250, BCP1100, BCP1150 and BCP1200 were implanted in the back muscles of Dutch milk goats and harvested at 6 and 12 weeks post implantation. After explantation, histomorphometrical analysis was performed on all implants. All implanted materials except HA1250 induced bone. However, large variations in the amounts of induced bone were observed between different materials and between individual animals. Histomorphometrical results showed that the presence of micropores within macropore walls is necessary to make a material osteoinductive. We postulate that introduction of microporosity within macropores, and consequent increase of the specific surface area, affects the interface dynamics of the ceramic in such a way that relevant cells are triggered to differentiate into the osteogenic lineage.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)3565-3575
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • METIS-223544
  • IR-71136

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