The design of composite scaffolds with slow degradation kinetics imposes the assessment of the time-course of degradation to predict the long-term in vitro behavior. In this work, the effect of hydroxyapatite (HA) particles on the hydrolytic degradation of poly e-caprolactone composite scaffold was investigated. The study of accelerated degradation mechanisms in alkaline medium enabled analysing comparable degradation profiles at different times. The accurate qualitative and quantitative study of morphology by scanning electron microscopy supported by image analysis demonstrated only a negligible effect on the structural porosity, to be ascribed to the addition of micrometric HA as a filler. Moreover, by comparing the Raman spectra with thermal analysis (thermogravimetry and differential scanning calorimetry) the role of HA on the composite degradation mechanism was defined, by separately quantifying the contribution of HA particles in the bulk and on the surface, on the bone formation as a function of modifications induced in the pore morphology, as well as physical and chemical properties of the polymer matrix. Indeed, HA particles alter the poly e-caprolactone crystallinity inducing a "shielding" effect of the polymer matrix. Meanwhile, the slight reduction of pore size as a function of the increasing HA content and the improvement of the effective hydrophilicity of the scaffolds also influence the degradation by faster mechanisms. Finally, it has been proven that the presence of HA enhances the scaffold bioactivity and human osteoblast cell response, remarking the active role of bioactive signals on the promotion of the surface mineralization and, as a consequence, on the cell-material interaction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering