Several inorganic materials such as special compositions of silicate glasses, glass-ceramics and calcium phosphates have been shown to be bioactive and resorbable and to exhibit appropriate mechanical properties which make them suitable for bone tissue engineering applications. However, the exact mechanism of interaction between the ionic dissolution products of such inorganic materials and human cells are not fully understood, which has prompted considerable research work in the biomaterials community during the last decade. This review comprehensively covers literature reports which have investigated specifically the effect of dissolution products of silicate bioactive glasses and glass-ceramics in relation to osteogenesis and angiogenesis. Particularly, recent advances made in fabricating dense biomaterials and scaffolds doped with trace elements (e.g. Zn, Sr, Mg, and Cu) and investigations on the effect of these elements on the scaffold biological performance are summarized and discussed in detail. Clearly, the biological response to artificial materials depends on many parameters such as chemical composition, topography, porosity and grain size. This review, however, focuses only on the ion release kinetics of the materials and the specific effect of the released ionic dissolution products on human cell behaviour, providing also a scope for future investigations and identifying specific research needs to advance the field. The biological performance of pure and doped silicate glasses, phosphate based glasses with novel specific compositions as well as several other silicate based compounds are discussed in detail. Cells investigated in the reviewed articles include human osteoblastic and osteoclastic cells as well as endothelial cells and stem cells.
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