, Volume 20, Issue 11, pp 2215-2222
Date: 11 Jun 2009

Calcification capacity of porous pHEMA–TiO2 composite hydrogels

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Many investigations have been attempted to promote calcification of synthetic polymers for applications as orthopaedic and dental implants. In this study, novel titanium dioxide (TiO2) reinforced porous poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) hydrogels were synthesized. Calcification capacity of the composite polymers was examined using light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy after incubation of the materials in a simulated body fluid up to 53 days. Mechanical strength, porosity and in vitro cytotoxicity were also investigated. Calcification capacity of porous pHEMA was significantly enhanced by the addition of TiO2 particulates. Infiltration of calcium phosphate, up to 1000 μm, was observed. The diffusion capacity of calcium ions was affected by the porosity and the interconnectivity of pores in the hydrogel polymers which were influenced by the presence of TiO2 and the monomer concentration. Cell viability tests indicated that porous hydrogels containing 7.5% TiO2 were not toxic to 3T3 fibroblast cells. These results demonstrate that incorporating TiO2 nanoparticulates can promote enhanced formation of calcium phosphate whilst maintaining the porosity and interconnectivity of the hydrogel polymers and would be very useful for the development of orthopaedic tissue engineering scaffolds.