Polylactic acid (PLA), dicalcium phosphate dihydrate (DCPD) and/or hydraulic calcium silicate (CaSi) have been used to prepare highly-porous scaffolds by thermally induced phase separation technique (TIPS). Three experimental mineral-doped formulations were prepared (PLA-10CaSi, PLA-5CaSi-5DCPD, PLA-10CaSi-10DCPD). Pure PLA scaffolds constituted the control group. Scaffolds were tested for their chemical-physical and biological properties, namely calcium release, alkalinizing activity, surface microchemistry and micromorphology by ESEM, apatite-forming ability by EDX, micro-Raman and IR spectroscopy, thermal properties by differential scanning calorimetry, mechanical properties by quasi-static parallel-plates compression testing, porosity by a standard water-absorption method and direct-contact cytotoxicity. All mineral-doped scaffolds released biologically relevant ions (biointeractive). A B-type carbonated apatite layer (thickness decreasing along the series PLA-10CaSi-10DCPD>PLA-10CaSi>PLA-5CaSi-5DCPD>PLA) was detected on the surface of all the 28d-aged scaffolds. Surface pores of fresh scaffolds ranged from 10 to 20μm in pure PLA to 10-100μm in PLA-10CaSi. An increase in porosity was detected in 28d-aged pure PLA scaffolds (approx. 30% of material loss with decrease of the PLA chain length); differently, in mineral-doped scaffolds, the PLA degradation was balanced by deposition/nucleation of apatite. All scaffolds showed absence of toxicity, in particular PLA-10CaSi-10DCPD. The designed scaffolds are biointeractive (release biologically relevant ions), nucleate apatite, possess high surface and internal open porosity and can be colonized by cells, appearing interesting materials for bone regeneration.
Keywords: Bone regeneration; Calcium phosphate; Calcium silicate; Polylactic acid; Porous scaffold; Thermally induced phase separation.
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