Non-Cytotoxic Agarose/Hydroxyapatite Composite Scaffolds for Drug Release

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jul 21;20(14):3565. doi: 10.3390/ijms20143565.


Healing of large bone defects requires implants or scaffolds that provide structural guidance for cell growth, differentiation, and vascularization. In the present work, an agarose-hydroxyapatite composite scaffold was developed that acts not only as a 3D matrix, but also as a release system. Hydroxyapatite (HA) was incorporated into the agarose gels in situ in various ratios by a simple procedure consisting of precipitation, cooling, washing, and drying. The resulting gels were characterized regarding composition, porosity, mechanical properties, and biocompatibility. A pure phase of carbonated HA was identified in the scaffolds, which had pore sizes of up to several hundred micrometers. Mechanical testing revealed elastic moduli of up to 2.8 MPa for lyophilized composites. MTT testing on Lw35human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and osteosarcoma MG-63 cells proved the biocompatibility of the scaffolds. Furthermore, scaffolds were loaded with model drug compounds for guided hMSC differentiation. Different release kinetic models were evaluated for adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) and suramin, and data showed a sustained release behavior over four days.

Keywords: agarose; biocomposite; bone tissue engineering; drug release; hydrogel; hydroxyapatite.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Drug Liberation
  • Durapatite / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Mechanical Phenomena
  • Porosity
  • Sepharose / chemistry*
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds* / chemistry


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Sepharose
  • Durapatite