• titanium implant;
  • hydrogel;
  • mesenchymal stem cells;
  • strontium;
  • osseointegration

Insufficient implant stability is an important determinant in the failure of cementless prostheses. To improve osseointegration, we aim at generating a bioactive implant combining a macroporous titanium (TT) with a biocompatible hydrogel to encapsulate osteo-inductive factors and osteoprogenitor cells. Amidation and cross-linking degree of an amidated carboxymethylcellulose hydrogel (CMCA) were characterized by FT-IR spectrometry and mechanical testing. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) from osteoarthritic patients were cultured on CMCA hydrogels, TT, and TT loaded with CMCA (TT + CMCA) with an optimized concentration of SrCl2 to evaluate cell viability and osteo-differentiation. Amidation and cross-linking degree were homogeneous among independent CMCA batches. SrCl2 at 5 μg/mL significantly improved BMSCs osteo-differentiation increasing calcified matrix (P < 0.01), type I collagen expression (P < 0.05) and alkaline phosphatase activity. TT + CMCA samples better retained cells into the TT mesh, significantly improving cell seeding efficiency with respect to TT (P < 0.05). BMSCs on TT + CMCA underwent a more efficient osteo-differentiation with higher alkaline phosphatase (P < 0.05) and calcium levels compared to cells on TT. Based on these in vitro results, we envision the association of TT with strontium-enriched CMCA and BMSCs as a promising strategy to generate bioactive implants promoting bone neoformation at the implant site. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 101A: 3396–3403, 2013.