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Keywords:

  • synchrotron MicroCT;
  • bone substitute;
  • bone tissue engineering

Abstract

Resorbable ceramic scaffolds based on Silicon stabilized tricalcium phosphate (Si-TCP) were seeded with bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) and ectopically implanted for 2, 4, and 6 months in immunodeficient mice. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the scaffold material was performed by X-ray synchrotron radiation computed microtomography (microCT) with a spatial resolution lower than 5 µm. Unique to these experiments was that microCT data were first collected on the scaffolds before implantation and then on the same scaffolds after they were seeded with BMSC, implanted in the mice and rescued after different times. Volume fraction, mean thickness and thickness distribution were evaluated for both new bone and scaffold phases as a function of the implantation time. New bone thickness increased from week 8 to week 16. Data for the implanted scaffolds were compared with those derived from the analysis of the same scaffolds prior to implantation and with data derived from 100% hydroxyapatite (HA) scaffold treated and analyzed in the same way. At variance with findings with the 100% HA scaffolds a significant variation in the density of the different Si-TCP scaffold regions in the pre- and post-implantation samples was observed. In particular a post-implantation decrease in the density of the scaffolds, together with major changes in the scaffold phase composition, was noticeable in areas adjacent to newly formed bone. Histology confirmed a better integration between new bone and scaffold in the Si-TCP composites in comparison to 100% HA composites where new bone and scaffold phases remained well distinct. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2007; 98: 271–281. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.