The repair of bone defects with biomaterials depends on a sufficient vascularization of the implantation site. We analyzed the effect of pore size on the vascularization and osseointegration of biphasic calcium phosphate particles, which were implanted into critical-sized cranial defects in Balb/c mice. Dense particles and particles with pore sizes in the ranges 40-70, 70-140, 140-210, and 210-280 microm were tested (n = 6 animals per group). Angiogenesis, vascularization, and leukocyte-endothelium interactions were monitored for 28 days by intravital microscopy. The formation of new bone and the bone-interface contact (BIC) were determined histomorphometrically. Twenty-eight days after implantation, the functional capillary density was significantly higher with ceramic particles whose pore sizes exceeded 140 microm [140-210 microm: 6.6 (+/-0.8) mm/mm(2); 210-280 microm: 7.3 (+/-0.6) mm/mm(2)] than with those whose pore sizes were lesser than 140 microm [40-70 microm: 5.3 (+/-0.4) mm/mm(2); 70-140 microm: 5.6 (+/-0.3) mm/mm(2)] or with dense particles [5.7 (+/-0.8) mm/mm(2)]. The volume of newly-formed bone deposited within the implants increased as the pore size increased [40-70 microm: 0.07 (+/-0.02) mm(3); 70-140 microm: 0.10 (+/-0.06) mm(3); 140-210 microm: 0.13 (+/-0.05) mm(3); 210-280 microm: 0.15 (+/-0.06) mm(3)]. Similar results were observed for the BIC. The data demonstrates pore size to be a critical parameter governing the dynamic processes of vascularization and osseointegration of bone substitutes.
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