The aim of this study was to develop a nanosized, controlled growth factor release system to incorporate into tissue engineering scaffolds and thus activate the cells seeded in the scaffold. Nanocapsules of poly(lactic acid-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) were loaded with the bone morphogenetic proteins BMP-2 and BMP-7, respectively, and with bovine serum albumin (BSA), the model protein. BSA-loading efficiency and release kinetics were used to determine the most appropriate nanocapsule pair to achieve the delivery of growth factors in a sequential manner, as occurs in natural processes. BSA-encapsulation efficiency was highest when the polymer concentration used in the preparation of PLGA and PHBV nanocapsules was 10% (w/v) (84.75% and 16.72%, respectively). Release of BSA was faster from PLGA than it was from PHBV. Based on the encapsulation efficiency and release data, 10% PLGA and 10% PHBV nanocapsules were chosen to provide the early BMP-2 and later BMP-7 release, respectively. Simultaneous, sequential delivery and individual release of the BMPs were studied for 7, 14, and 21 days, using rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. Individual BMP-2 release suppressed cell proliferation while providing higher alkaline phosphatase activity with respect to BMP-7. The sequential delivery of BMP-2 and BMP-7 provided slightly lower proliferation than did simultaneous delivery, but the highest alkaline phosphatase activity of all indicated a synergistic effect on the osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells caused by the use of the two growth factors in a sequential fashion.
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