Background: Bone grafts simultaneously delivering therapeutic proteins and antibiotics may be valuable in orthopaedic trauma care. Previously, we developed a poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate)-nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite (pHEMA-nHA) synthetic bone graft that, when preabsorbed with 400-ng rhBMP-2/7, facilitated the functional repair of critical-size rat femoral defects. Recently, we showed that pHEMA-nHA effectively retains/releases vancomycin and rhBMP-2 in vitro. The success of such a strategy requires that the incorporation of vancomycin does not compromise the structural integrity of the graft nor its ability to promote bone healing.
Questions/purposes: (1) To evaluate the ability of pHEMA-nHA-vancomycin composites in combination with 3-µg rhBMP-2 to repair 5 mm rat femoral segmental defects, and (2) To determine if the encapsulated vancomycin impairs the graft/rhBMP-2-assisted bone repair.
Methods: pHEMA-nHA-vancomycin, pHEMA-nHA, or collagen sponge control with/without 3-µg rhBMP-2 were press-fit in 5 mm femoral defects in SASCO-SD male rats (289-300 g). Histology, microcomputed tomography, and torsion testing were performed on 8- and 12-week explants to evaluate the extent and quality of repair. The effect of vancomycin on the temporal absorption of endogenous BMP-2 and stromal cell-derived factor-1 was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. These factors are important for bone healing initiation and stem cell recruitment, respectively.
Results: Partial bridging of the defect with bony callus by 12 weeks was observed with pHEMA-nHA-vancomycin without rhBMP-2 while full bridging with substantially mineralized callus and partial restoration of torsional strength was achieved with 3-µg rhBMP-2. The presence of vancomycin changed the absorption patterns of endogenous proteins on the grafts, but did not appear to substantially compromise graft healing.
Conclusions: The composite pHEMA-nHA-vancomycin preabsorbed with 3-µg rhBMP-2 promoted repair of 5 mm rat femoral segmental defects. With the sample sizes applied, vancomycin encapsulation did not appear to have a negative effect on bone healing.
Clinical relevance: pHEMA-nHA-vancomycin preabsorbed with rhBMP-2 may be useful in the repair of critical-size long bone defects prone to infections.