A novel apatite-wollastonite/poly(lactic acid) (AW/PLA) composite structure, which matches cortical and cancellous bone properties has been produced and evaluated in vitro and in vivo. The composites structure has been produced using an innovative combination of 3D printed polymer and ceramic macrostructures, thermally bonded to create a hybrid composite structure. In vitro cell assays demonstrated that the AW structure alone, PLA structure alone, and AW/PLA composite were all biocompatible, with the AW structure supporting the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of rat bone marrow stromal cells. Within a rat calvarial defect model the AW material showed excellent osseointegration with the formation of new bone, and vascularisation of the porous AW structure, both when the AW was implanted alone and when it was part of the AW/PLA composite structure. However, the AW/PLA structure showed the largest amount of the newly formed bone in vivo, an effect which is considered to be a result of the presence of the osteoinductive AW structure stimulating bone growth in the larger pores of the adjacent PLA structure. The layered AW/PLA structure showed no signs of delamination in any of the in vitro or in vivo studies, a result which is attributed to good initial bonding between polymer and ceramic, slow resorption rates of the two materials, and excellent osseointegration. It is concluded that macro-scale composites offer an alternative route to the fabrication of bioactive bone implants which can provide a match to both cortical and cancellous bone properties over millimetre length scales.
Tcacencu, I., Rodrigues, N., Alharbi, N., Benning, M., Toumpaniari, S., Mancuso, E., Marshall, M., Bretcanu, O., Birch, M., McCaskie, A., & Dalgarno, K. (2018). Osseointegration of porous apatite-wollastonite and poly(lactic acid) composite structures created using 3D printing techniques. Materials Science and Engineering C, 90, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2018.04.022