Strong and bioactive composites containing nano-silica-fused whiskers for bone repair.

Biomaterials (2004-05-04)
Hockin H K Xu, Douglas T Smith, Carl G Simon

Self-hardening calcium phosphate cement (CPC) sets to form hydroxyapatite with high osteoconductivity, but its brittleness and low strength limit its use to only non-stress bearing locations. Previous studies developed bioactive composites containing hydroxyapatite fillers in Bis-GMA-based composites for bone repair applications, and they possessed higher strength values. However, these strengths were still lower than the strength of cortical bone. The aim of this study was to develop strong and bioactive composites by combining CPC fillers with nano-silica-fused whiskers in a resin matrix, and to characterize the mechanical properties and cell response. Silica particles were fused to silicon carbide whiskers to roughen the whisker surfaces for enhanced retention in the matrix. Mass ratios of whisker:CPC of 1:2, 1:1 and 2:1 were incorporated into a Bis-GMA-based resin and hardened by two-part chemical curing. Composite with only CPC fillers without whiskers served as a control. The specimens were tested using three-point flexure and nano-indentation. Composites with whisker:CPC ratios of 2:1 and 1:1 had flexural strengths (mean+/-SD; n=9) of (164+/-14) MPa and (139+/-22) MPa, respectively, nearly 3 times higher than (54+/-5) MPa of the control containing only CPC fillers (p<0.05). The strength of the new whisker-CPC composites was 3 times higher than the strength achieved in previous studies for conventional bioactive composites containing hydroxyapatite particles in Bis-GMA-based resins. The mechanical properties of the CPC-whisker composites nearly matched those of cortical bone and trabecular bone. Osteoblast-like cell adhesion, proliferation and viability were equivalent on the non-whisker control containing only CPC fillers, on the whisker composite at whisker:CPC of 1:1, and on the tissue culture polystyrene control, suggesting that the new CPC-whisker composite was non-cytotoxic.

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Silicon carbide, nanofiber, D <2.5 μm, L/D ≥ 20, 98% trace metals basis