The reconstruction of large segmental defects still represents a critical issue in the orthopedic field. The use of functionalized scaffolds able to create a magnetic environment is a fascinating option to guide the onset of regenerative processes. In the present study, a porous hydroxyapatite scaffold, incorporating superparamagnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles (MNPs), was implanted in a critical bone defect realized in sheep metatarsus. Superparamagnetic nanoparticles functionalized with hyperbranched poly(epsilon-Lysine) peptides and physically complexed with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) where injected in situ to penetrate the magnetic scaffold. The scaffold was fixed with cylindrical permanent NdFeB magnets implanted proximally, and the magnetic forces generated by the magnets enabled the capture of the injected nanoparticles forming a VEGF gradient in its porosity. After 16 weeks, histomorphometric measurements were performed to quantify bone growth and bone-to-implant contact, while the mechanical properties of regenerated bone via an atomic force microscopy (AFM) analysis were investigated. The results showed increased bone regeneration at the magnetized interface; this regeneration was higher in the VEGF-MNP-treated group, while the nanomechanical behavior of the tissue was similar to the pattern of the magnetic field distribution. This new approach provides insights into the ability of magnetic technologies to stimulate bone formation, improving bone/scaffold interaction.
This research was funded by the P7 European Project “Magnetic Scaffolds for in vivo Tissue Engineering”; contract grant number: NMP3-LA-2008-214686.
© 2023 by the authors.
- magnetic scaffold
- critical size defect
- ovine model