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by Keyword: Calcium Phosphates


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Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). The influence of physicochemical properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on the in vitro behavior of endothelial progenitor cells and their interaction with mesenchymal stem cells Advanced Healthcare Materials 8, (2), 1801138

Calcium phosphate (CaP) substrates are successfully used as bone grafts due to their osteogenic properties. However, the influence of the physicochemical features of CaPs in angiogenesis is frequently neglected despite it being a crucial process for bone regeneration. The present work focuses on analyzing the effects of textural parameters of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) and sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP), such as specific surface area, surface roughness, and microstructure, on the behavior of rat endothelial progenitor cells (rEPCs) and their crosstalk with rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs). The higher reactivity of CDHA results in low proliferation rates in monocultured and cocultured systems. This effect is especially pronounced for rMSCs alone, and for CDHA with a fine microstructure. In terms of angiogenic and osteogenic gene expressions, the upregulation of particular genes is especially enhanced for needle-like CDHA compared to plate-like CDHA and β-TCP, suggesting the importance not only of the chemistry of the substrate, but also of its textural features. Moreover, the coculture of rEPCs and rMSCs on needle-like CDHA results in early upregulation of osteogenic modulator, i.e., protein deglycase 1 might be a possible cause of overexpression of osteogenic-related genes on the same substrate.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Calcium phosphates, Cocultures, Osteogenesis


Sadowska, Joanna M., Wei, Fei, Guo, Jia, Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Xiao, Yin, (2018). Effect of nano-structural properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on osteoimmunomodulation Biomaterials , 181, 318-332

Immune cells are sensitive to the microstructural and textural properties of materials. Tuning the structural features of synthetic bone grafts could be a valuable strategy to regulate the specific response of the immune system, which in turn modulates the activity of bone cells. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of the structural characteristics of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) on the innate immune response of macrophages and the subsequent impact on osteogenesis and osteoclastogenesis. Murine RAW 264.7 cells were cultured, under standard and inflammatory conditions, on chemically identical CDHA substrates that varied in microstructure and porosity. The impact on osteogenesis was evaluated by incubating osteoblastic cells (SaOS-2) with RAW-CDHA conditioned extracts. The results showed that macrophages were sensitive to different textural and structural properties of CDHA. Under standard conditions, the impact of inflammatory cytokine production by RAW cells cultured on CDHA played a significant role in the degradation of substrates, suggesting the impact of resorptive behaviour of RAW cells on biomimetic surfaces. Osteoblast differentiation was stimulated by the conditioned media collected from RAW cells cultured on needle-like nanostructured CDHA. The results demonstrated that needle-like nanostructured CDHA was able to generate a favourable osteoimmune environment to regulate osteoblast differentiation and osteogenesis. Under inflammatory conditions, the incubation of RAW cells with less porous CDHA resulted in a decreased gene expression and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Biomimetic hydroxyapatite, Osteoimmunomodulation, Inflammation, Osteogenesis, Osteoclastogesis


Sadowska, Joanna Maria, Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Espanol, Montserrat, Stähli, Christoph, Döbelin, Nicola, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). In vitro response of mesenchymal stem cells to biomimetic hydroxyapatite substrates: A new strategy to assess the effect of ion exchange Acta Biomaterialia 76, 319-332

Biomaterials can interact with cells directly, that is, by direct contact of the cells with the material surface, or indirectly, through soluble species that can be released to or uptaken from the surrounding fluids. However, it is difficult to characterise the relevance of this fluid-mediated interaction separately from the topography and composition of the substrate, because they are coupled variables. These fluid-mediated interactions are amplified in the case of highly reactive calcium phosphates (CaPs) such as biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA), particularly in static in vitro cultures. The present work proposes a strategy to decouple the effect of ion exchange from topographical features by adjusting the volume ratio between the cell culture medium and biomaterial (VCM/VB). Increasing this ratio allowed mitigating the drastic ionic exchanges associated to the compositional changes experienced by the material exposed to the cell culture medium. This strategy was validated using rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) cultured on CDHA and beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) discs using different VCM/VB ratios. Whereas in the case of β-TCP the cell response was not affected by this ratio, a significant effect on cell adhesion and proliferation was found for the more reactive CDHA. The ionic exchange, produced by CDHA at low VCM/VB, altered cell adhesion due to the reduced number of focal adhesions, caused cell shrinkage and further rMCSs apoptosis. This was mitigated when using a high VCM/VB, which attenuated the changes of calcium and phosphate concentrations in the cell culture medium, resulting in rMSCs spreading and a viability over time. Moreover, rMSCs showed an earlier expression of osteogenic genes on CDHA compared to sintered β-TCP when extracellular calcium fluctuations were reduced. Statement of Significance: Fluid mediated interactions play a significant role in the bioactivity of calcium phosphates. Ionic exchange is amplified in the case of biomimetic hydroxyapatite, which makes the in vitro characterisation of cell-material interactions especially challenging. The present work proposes a novel and simple strategy to explore the mechanisms of interaction of biomimetic and sintered calcium phosphates with mesenchymal stem cells. The effects of topography and ion exchange are analysed separately by modifying the volume ratio between cell culture medium and biomaterial. High ionic fluctuations interfered in the maturation of focal adhesions, hampering cell adhesion and leading to increased apoptosis and reduced proliferation rate.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Mesenchymal stem cells, Intracellular calcium, Cell adhesion


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Bonany, M., Lu, X., Persson, C., Ginebra, M. P., (2018). Heparinization of beta tricalcium phosphate: Osteo-immunomodulatory effects Advanced Healthcare Materials 7, (5), 1700867

Immune cells play a vital role in regulating bone dynamics. This has boosted the interest in developing biomaterials that can modulate both the immune and skeletal systems. In this study, calcium phosphates discs (i.e., beta-tricalcium phosphate, β-TCP) are functionalized with heparin to investigate the effects on immune and stem cell responses. The results show that the functionalized surfaces downregulate the release of hydrogen peroxide and proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1 beta) from human monocytes and neutrophils, compared to nonfunctionalized discs. The macrophages show both elongated and round shapes on the two ceramic substrates, but the morphology of cells on heparinized β-TCP tends toward a higher elongation after 72 h. The heparinized substrates support rat mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) adhesion and proliferation, and anticipate the differentiation toward the osteoblastic lineage as compared to β-TCP and control. The coupling between the inflammatory response and osteogenesis is assessed by culturing MSCs with the macrophage supernatants. The downregulation of inflammation in contact with the heparinized substrates induces higher expression of bone-related markers by MSCs.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Heparinization, Inflammation, Osteogenesis


O'Neill, R., McCarthy, H. O., Montufar, E. B., Ginebra, M. P., Wilson, D. I., Lennon, A., Dunne, N., (2017). Critical review: Injectability of calcium phosphate pastes and cements Acta Biomaterialia 50, 1-19

Calcium phosphate cements (CPC) have seen clinical success in many dental and orthopaedic applications in recent years. The properties of CPC essential for clinical success are reviewed in this article, which includes properties of the set cement (e.g. bioresorbability, biocompatibility, porosity and mechanical properties) and unset cement (e.g. setting time, cohesion, flow properties and ease of delivery to the surgical site). Emphasis is on the delivery of calcium phosphate (CaP) pastes and CPC, in particular the occurrence of separation of the liquid and solid components of the pastes and cements during injection; and established methods to reduce this phase separation. In addition a review of phase separation mechanisms observed during the extrusion of other biphasic paste systems and the theoretical models used to describe these mechanisms are discussed. Statement of Significance Occurrence of phase separation of calcium phosphate pastes and cements during injection limits their full exploitation as a bone substitute in minimally invasive surgical applications. Due to lack of theoretical understanding of the phase separation mechanism(s), optimisation of an injectable CPC that satisfies clinical requirements has proven difficult. However, phase separation of pastes during delivery has been the focus across several research fields. Therefore in addition to a review of methods to reduce phase separation of CPC and the associated constraints, a review of phase separation mechanisms observed during extrusion of other pastes and the theoretical models used to describe these mechanisms is presented. It is anticipated this review will benefit future attempts to develop injectable calcium phosphate based systems.

Keywords: Bone cements, Calcium phosphates, Injectability, Material properties, Phase separation


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Beats, S., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). In vitro degradation of calcium phosphates: Effect of multiscale porosity, textural properties and composition Acta Biomaterialia 60, 81-92

The capacity of calcium phosphates to be replaced by bone is tightly linked to their resorbability. However, the relative importance of some textural parameters on their degradation behavior is still unclear. The present study aims to quantify the effect of composition, specific surface area (SSA), and porosity at various length scales (nano-, micro- and macroporosity) on the in vitro degradation of different calcium phosphates. Degradation studies were performed in an acidic medium to mimic the osteoclastic environment. Small degradations were found in samples with interconnected nano- and micropores with sizes below 3 µm although they were highly porous (35–65%), with maximum weight loss of 8 wt%. Biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, with high SSA and low crystallinity, presented the highest degradation rates exceeding even the more soluble β-TCP. A dependence of degradation on SSA was indisputable when porosity and pore sizes were increased. The introduction of additional macroporosity with pore interconnections above 20 µm significantly impacted degradation, more markedly in the substrates with high SSA (>15 m2/g), whereas in sintered substrates with low SSA (<1 m2/g) it resulted just in a linear increase of degradation. Up to 30 % of degradation was registered in biomimetic substrates, compared to 15 % in β-TCP or 8 % in sintered hydroxyapatite. The incorporation of carbonate in calcium deficient hydroxyapatite did not increase its degradation rate. Overall, the study highlights the importance of textural properties, which can modulate or even outweigh the effect of other features such as the solubility of the compounds. Statement of Significance The physicochemical features of calcium phosphates are crucial to tune biological events like resorption during bone remodeling. Understanding in vitro resorption can help to predict the in vivo behavior. Besides chemical composition, other parameters such as porosity and specific surface area have a strong influence on resorption. The complexity of isolating the contribution of each parameter lies in the close interrelation between them. In this work, a multiscale study was proposed to discern the extent to which each parameter influences degradation in a variety of calcium phosphates, using an acidic medium to resemble the osteoclastic environment. The results emphasize the importance of textural properties, which can modulate or even outweigh the effect of the intrinsic solubility of the compounds.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Degradation, Porosity, Textural properties


Gustavsson, J., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J., Engel, E., (2012). Electrochemical microelectrodes for improved spatial and temporal characterization of aqueous environments around calcium phosphate cements Acta Biomaterialia 8, (1), 386-393

Calcium phosphate compounds can potentially influence cellular fate through ionic substitutions. However, to be able to turn such solution-mediated processes into successful directors of cellular response, a perfect understanding of the material-induced chemical reactions in situ is required. We therefore report on the application of home-made electrochemical microelectrodes, tested as pH and chloride sensors, for precise spatial and temporal characterization of different aqueous environments around calcium phosphate-based biomaterials prepared from α-tricalcium phosphate using clinically relevant liquid to powder ratios. The small size of the electrodes allowed for online measurements in traditionally inaccessible in vitro environments, such as the immediate material-liquid interface and the interior of curing bone cement. The kinetic data obtained has been compared to theoretical sorption models, confirming that the proposed setup can provide key information for improved understanding of the biochemical environment imposed by chemically reactive biomaterials.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, Ion sorption, Iridium oxide, Sensors, Animals, Biocompatible Materials, Bone Cements, Calcium Phosphates, Cells, Cultured, Chlorides, Electrochemical Techniques, Gold, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Hydroxyapatites, Iridium, Materials Testing, Microelectrodes, Powders, Silver, Silver Compounds, Water


Sandino, C., Checa, S., Prendergast, P. J., Lacroix, D., (2010). Simulation of angiogenesis and cell differentiation in a CaP scaffold subjected to compressive strains using a lattice modeling approach Biomaterials , 31, (8), 2446-2452

Mechanical stimuli are one of the factors that influence tissue differentiation. In the development of biomaterials for bone tissue engineering, mechanical stimuli and formation of a vascular network that transport oxygen to cells within the pores of the scaffolds are essential. Angiogenesis and cell differentiation have been simulated in scaffolds of regular porosity; however, the dynamics of differentiation can be different when the porosity is not uniform. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of the mechanical stimuli and the capillary network formation on cell differentiation within a scaffold of irregular morphology. A porous scaffold of calcium phosphate based glass was used. The pores and the solid phase were discretized using micro computed tomography images. Cell activity was simulated within the interconnected pore domain of the scaffold using a lattice modeling approach. Compressive strains of 0.5 and 1% of total deformation were applied and two cases of mesenchymal stem cells initialization (in vitro seeding and in vivo) were simulated. Similar capillary networks were formed independently of the cell initialization mode and the magnitude of the mechanical strain applied. Most of vessels grew in the pores at the periphery of the scaffolds and were blocked by the walls of the scaffold. When 0.5% of strain was applied, 70% of the pore volume was affected by mechano-regulatory stimuli corresponding to bone formation; however, because of the lack of oxygen, only 40% of the volume was filled with osteoblasts. 40% of volume was filled with chondrocytes and 3% with fibroblasts. When the mechanical strain was increased to 1%, 11% of the pore volume was filled with osteoblasts, 59% with chondrocytes, and 8% with fibroblasts. This study has shown the dynamics of the correlation between mechanical load, angiogenesis and tissue differentiation within a scaffold with irregular morphology.

Keywords: Tissue engineering, Calcium phosphates, Mechanoregulation, Micro computer tomography, Finite element modeling


Engel, E., Del Valle, S., Aparicio, C., Altankov, G., Asin, L., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Discerning the role of topography and ion exchange in cell response of bioactive tissue engineering scaffolds Tissue Engineering Part A , 14, (8), 1341-1351

Surface topography is known to have an influence on osteoblast activity. However, in the case of bioactive materials, topographical changes can affect also ion exchange properties. This makes the problem more complex, since it is often difficult to separate the strictly topographical effects from the effects of ionic fluctuations in the medium. The scope of this paper is to analyze the simultaneous effect of topography and topography-mediated ion exchange on the initial cellular behavior of osteoblastic-like cells cultured on bioactive tissue engineering substrates. Two apatitic substrates with identical chemical composition but different micro/nanostructural features were obtained by low-temperature setting of a calcium phosphate cement. MG63 osteoblastic-like cells were cultured either in direct contact with the substrates or with their extracts. A strong and permanent decrease of calcium concentration in the culture medium, dependent on substrate topography, was detected. A major effect of the substrate microstructure on cell proliferation was observed, explained in part by the topography-mediated ion exchange, but not specifically by the ionic Ca(2+) fluctuations. Cell differentiation was strongly enhanced when cells were cultured on the finer substrate. This effect was not explained by the chemical modification of the medium, but rather suggested a strictly topographical effect.

Keywords: Alkaline Phosphatase/metabolism, Bone Cements/pharmacology, Calcium/metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/pharmacology, Cell Adhesion/drug effects, Cell Differentiation/drug effects, Cell Proliferation/drug effects, Cell Shape/drug effects, Cells, Cultured, Culture Media, Durapatite/pharmacology, Humans, Interferometry, Ion Exchange, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology/drug effects/enzymology/ultrastructure, Phosphorus/metabolism, Powders, Tissue Engineering, Tissue Scaffolds


Sanzana, E. S., Navarro, M., Macule, F., Suso, S., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Of the in vivo behavior of calcium phosphate cements and glasses as bone substitutes Acta Biomaterialia 4, (6), 1924-1933

The use of injectable self-setting calcium phosphate cements or soluble glass granules represent two different strategies for bone regeneration, each with distinct advantages and potential applications. This study compares the in vivo behavior of two calcium phosphate cements and two phosphate glasses with different composition, microstructure and solubility, using autologous bone as a control, in a rabbit model. The implanted materials were alpha-tricalcium phosphate cement (cement H), calcium sodium potassium phosphate cement (cement R), and two phosphate glasses in the P2O5-CaO-Na2O and P2O5-CaO-Na2O-TiO2 systems. The four materials were osteoconductive, biocompatible and biodegradable. Radiological and histological studies demonstrated correct osteointegration and substitution of the implants by new bone. The reactivity of the different materials, which depends on their solubility, porosity and specific surface area, affected the resorption rate and bone formation mainly during the early stages of implantation, although this effect was weak. Thus, at 4 weeks the degradation was slightly higher in cements than in glasses, especially for cement R. However, after 12 weeks of implantation all materials showed a similar degradation degree and promoted bone neoformation equivalent to that of the control group.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Calcium phosphate cements, Phosphate glasses, Bone grafts, Bone regenerations


Charles-Harris, M., Koch, M. A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., (2008). A PLA/calcium phosphate degradable composite material for bone tissue engineering: an in vitro study Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 19, (4), 1503-1513

Biodegradable polymers reinforced with an inorganic phase such as calcium phosphate glasses may be a promising approach to fulfil the challenging requirements presented by 3D porous scaffolds for tissue engineering. Scaffolds' success depends mainly on their biological behaviour. This work is aimed to the in vitro study of polylactic acid (PLA)/CaP glass 3D porous constructs for bone regeneration. The scaffolds were elaborated using two different techniques, namely solvent-casting and phase-separation. The effect of scaffolds' micro and macrostructure on the biological response of these scaffolds was assayed. Cell proliferation, differentiation and morphology within the scaffolds were studied. Furthermore, polymer/glass scaffolds were seeded under dynamic conditions in a custom-made perfusion bioreactor. Results indicate that the final architecture of the solvent-cast or phase separated scaffolds have a significant effect on cells' behaviour. Solvent-cast scaffolds seem to be the best candidates for bone tissue engineering. Besides, dynamic seeding yielded a higher seeding efficiency in comparison with the static method.

Keywords: Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Bone and Bones/ metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/ chemistry, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Humans, Lactic Acid/ chemistry, Microscopy, Confocal, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Osteoblasts/metabolism, Permeability, Polymers/ chemistry, Porosity, Solvents/chemistry, Tissue Engineering/ methods