Osteoinductive biomaterial geometries for bone regenerative engineering

Tugba Ozdemir, Andrew M. Higgins, Justin L. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Worldwide, more than 2.2 million patients undergo bone graft procedures annually. In each of these procedures an interface is formed between the host tissue and the graft material. Synthetic implants exhibit an interface with the host tissue and the formation of a homogenous interface consisting of bone and void of intervening soft tissue is desired (osseointegration); recent developments have highlighted the benefit of incorporating nanostructures at that interface. Autograft and allograft bone are frequently used for bone loss, non-union fractures, and spinal fusions; however, both are plagued with complications either due to supply or inadequate graft properties. In contrast to bone tissue engineering, which uses a top-down approach to repair bone defects, bone regenerative engineering uses a bottom-up approach focused on strategies incorporating stem cells, biomaterials, and growth factors alone or in combination to generate or regenerate bone tissue. Early constructs developed for bone regenerative engineering utilized polymeric microstructures, presenting surface features with characteristic dimensions similar to that of a cell (1μm - 1000μm). These microstructures were typically biodegradable and demonstrated an excellent ability to match the mechanics of native bone tissue. They were also osteoconductive-capable of promoting osteoblast growth. On the other hand, the osteoinductive abilities of these microstructures were lacking. Osteoinduction, or the ability to promote the progression of a preosteoblastic cell to a mature osteoblast, historically was achieved in two ways: via the addition of nanoscale ceramics to the microstructures or via an external stimulus such as the addition of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). More recent developments in bone regenerative engineering have utilized polymeric nanostructures (less than 1μm) with characteristic dimensions an order of magnitude or more less than that of a cell to stimulate and drive an osteoinductive response in the absence of growth factors. Despite strong literature evidence supporting the nanostructures' ability to be both osteoconductive and osteoinductive, there is still disparity regarding how nanostructures regulate the progression towards an osteoblastic phenotype. This review will explore unique micro- and nano-architectures, how they initiate osteoinductive signals through pathways similar to BMPs, and how these unique geometries can be translated to the clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3446-3455
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number19
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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