Plasma-Enabled Graphene Quantum Dot Hydrogel-Magnesium Composites as Bioactive Scaffolds for In Vivo Bone Defect Repair

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2023 Sep 27;15(38):44607-44620. doi: 10.1021/acsami.3c05297. Epub 2023 Sep 18.


Bioactive and mechanically stable metal-based scaffolds are commonly used for bone defect repair. However, conventional metal-based scaffolds induce nonuniform cell growth, limiting damaged tissue restoration. Here, we develop a plasma nanotechnology-enhanced graphene quantum dot (GQD) hydrogel-magnesium (Mg) composite scaffold for functional bone defect repair by integrating a bioresource-derived nitrogen-doped GQD (NGQD) hydrogel into the Mg ZK60 alloy. Each scaffold component brings major synergistic advantages over the current alloy-based state of the art, including (1) mechanical support of the cortical bone and calcium deposition by the released Mg2+ during degradation; (2) enhanced uptake, migration, and distribution of osteoblasts by the porous hydrogel; and (3) improved osteoblast adhesion and proliferation, osteogenesis, and mineralization by the NGQDs in the hydrogel. Through an in vivo study, the hybrid scaffold with the much enhanced osteogenic ability induced by the above synergy promotes a more rapid, uniform, and directional bone growth across the hydrogel channel, compared with the control Mg-based scaffold. This work provides insights into the design of multifunctional hybrid scaffolds, which can be applied in other areas well beyond the demonstrated bone defect repair.

Keywords: bone defect regeneration; composite scaffold; magnesium alloy; nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots; plasma nanotechnology.