Pre-clinical evaluation of a new coral-based bone scaffold

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2014 Apr-Jun;27(2):221-34. doi: 10.1177/039463201402700209.


Coral is used worldwide for bone reconstruction. The favorable characteristics that make this material desirable for implantation are (i) osteoinduction, (ii) and osteoconduction. These proprieties have been demonstrated by in vivo studies with animal models and clinical trials over a twenty-year period. Also poly(2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate) [poly(HEMA)] is a widely used biomaterial. By using coral and poly(HEMA), a scaffold for bone reconstruction application has been recently synthesized. Cytological, histological and genetic analyses were performed to characterize this new alloplastic material. Four samples were analyzed: (a) white coral (WC), (b) red coral (RC), (c) WC plus polymer (WCP) and (d) RC plus polymer (RCP). Quantification of mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity by MTT assay was performed as indirect detector of cytotoxicity. In vivo effects were revealed by implanting corals and coral-based polymers in rabbit tibia. Samples were collected after 4 weeks and subjected to histological analysis. To evaluate the genetic response of cells to corals and coral-derived polymers an osteoblastlike cell line (i.e. MG63) was cultured in wells containing (a) medium, (b) medium plus corals and (c) medium plus two types of scaffolds (RCP or WCP). RNAs extracted from cells were retro-transcribed and hybridized on DNA 19.2K microarrays. No cytotoxicity was detected in corals and coral-based biopolymers. No inflammation or adverse effect was revealed by histological examination. By microarray analysis 154 clones were differentially expressed between RC and WC (81 up and 73 down regulated) whereas only 15 clones were repressed by the polymer. Histological evaluation not only confirmed that coral is a biocompatible material, but also that the polymer has no adverse effect. Microarray results were in agreement with cytological and histological analyses and provided further data regarding the genetic effects of RC, WC and the new polymer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa*
  • Biocompatible Materials* / toxicity
  • Bone Substitutes* / toxicity
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Models, Animal
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Osseointegration* / genetics
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Polyamines* / toxicity
  • Polyhydroxyethyl Methacrylate / analogs & derivatives*
  • Polyhydroxyethyl Methacrylate / toxicity
  • Rabbits
  • Tibia / metabolism
  • Tibia / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Scaffolds*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Bone Substitutes
  • Polyamines
  • poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate)-polyamine graft copolymer
  • Polyhydroxyethyl Methacrylate