Pullulan/dextran/nHA macroporous composite beads for bone repair in a femoral condyle defect in rats

PLoS One. 2014 Oct 20;9(10):e110251. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110251. eCollection 2014.


The repair of bone defects is of particular interest for orthopedic, oral, maxillofacial, and dental surgery. Bone loss requiring reconstruction is conventionally addressed through bone grafting. Depending on the size and the location of the defect, this method has limits and risks. Biomaterials can offer an alternative and have features supporting bone repair. Here, we propose to evaluate the cellular penetration and bone formation of new macroporous beads based on pullulan/dextran that has been supplemented with nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite in a rat model. Cross-linked beads of 300-500 µm diameters were used in a lateral femoral condyle defect and analyzed by magnetic resonance imaging, micro-computed tomography, and histology in comparison to the empty defects 15, 30, and 70 days after implantation. Inflammation was absent for both conditions. For empty defects, cellularisation and mineralization started from the periphery of the defect. For the defects containing beads, cellular structures filling out the spaces between the scaffolds with increasing interconnectivity and trabecular-like organization were observed over time. The analysis of calcified sections showed increased mineralization over time for both conditions, but was more pronounced for the samples containing beads. Bone Mineral Density and Bone Mineral Content were both significantly higher at day 70 for the beads in comparison to empty defects as well as compared with earlier time points. Analysis of newly formed tissue around the beads showed an increase of osteoid tissue, measured as percentage of the defect surface. This study suggests that the use of beads for the repair of small size defects in bone may be expanded on to meet the clinical need for a ready-to-use fill-up material that can favor bone formation and mineralization, as well as promote vessel ingrowth into the defect site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Biocompatible Materials / pharmacology*
  • Bone Regeneration / drug effects
  • Calcification, Physiologic / drug effects
  • Dextrans / chemistry*
  • Durapatite / chemistry*
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur / drug effects
  • Femur / physiology*
  • Glucans / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Microspheres*
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Porosity
  • Radiography
  • Rats
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Dextrans
  • Glucans
  • pullulan
  • Durapatite

Grants and funding

This work is funded by ANR-07-TecSan-011-01 ITOV and ANR-10-EMMA-009-01 MATRI+ from Agence National de la Recherche: (http://www.agence-nationale-recherche.fr/) to JA and DL. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.