The properties of poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)-based composites recommend this material as a good candidate for the replacement of damaged cartilage, subchondral bone, meniscus, humeral joint and other orthopedic applications. The manufacturing process can be manipulated to generate the desired biomechanical properties. However, the main shortcomings of PVA hydrogels are related to poor strength and bioactivity. To overcome this situation, reinforcing elements are added to the PVA matrix. The aim of our work was to develop and characterize a novel composition based on PVA reinforced with Se-doped TiO2 nanoparticles and natural hydroxyapatite (HA), for possible orthopedic applications. The PVA/Se-doped TiO2 composites with and without HA were structurally investigated by FTIR and XRD, in order to confirm the incorporation of the inorganic phase in the polymeric structure, and by SEM and XRF, to evidence the ultrastructural details and dispersion of nanoparticles in the PVA matrix. Both the mechanical and structural properties of the composites demonstrated a synergic reinforcing effect of HA and Se-doped TiO2 nanoparticles. Moreover, the tailorable properties of the composites were proved by the viability and differentiation potential of the bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSC) to osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic lineages. The novel hybrid PVA composites show suitable structural, mechanical and biological features to be considered as a promising biomaterial for articular cartilage and subchondral bone repair.
Keywords: BMMSC differentiation; PVA (poly(vinyl alcohol)); composites; hydroxyapatite; nanoparticles; selenium; titania.