OBJECTIVE: Bone regeneration involves a coordinated cascade of events that are regulated by several cytokines and growth factors, among which bone morphogenic protein-2 (BMP-2), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) play important roles. In this study, we investigated the effects of dual release of the three growth factors on bone regeneration in femur defects.
METHODS: A composite consisting of Gelatin microparticles loaded with VEGF/FGF-2 and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)-poly(ethylene glycol)-carboxyl (PLGA-PEG-COOH) microparticles loaded with BMP-2 encapsulated in a nano hydroxyapatite-poly actic-co-glycolic acid (nHA-PLGA) scaffold was prepared for the dual release of the growth factors.
RESULTS: On the 14th day, decreased release rate of BMP-2 compared with FGF-2 and VEGF was observed. However, after 14 days, compared to FGF-2 and VEGF, BMP-2 showed an increased release rate. Controlled dual release of BMP-2 and VEGF, FGF-2 resulted in a significant osteogenic differentiation of bone mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs). Moreover, effects of the composite scaffold on functional connection of osteoblast-vascular cells during bone development were evaluated. The synergistic effects of dual delivery of growth factors were shown to promote the expression of VEGF in BMSCs. Increased secretion of VEGF from BMSCs promoted the proliferation and angiogenic differentiation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in the co-culture system. At 12 weeks after implantation, blood vessel and bone formation were analyzed by micro-CT and histology. The composite scaffold significantly promoted the formation of blood vessels and new bone in femur defects.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that dual delivery of angiogenic factors and osteogenic factors from Gelatin and PLGA-PEG-COOH microparticles-based composite scaffolds exerted an osteogenic-angiogenic coupling effect on bone regeneration. This approach will inform on the development of appropriate designs of high-performance bioscaffolds for bone tissue engineering.