Mater Today Bio. 2023 Jul 29;22:100754. doi: 10.1016/j.mtbio.2023.100754. eCollection 2023 Oct.
Due to its superior mechanical properties and chemical stability, Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) has emerged as an alternative to conventional metal implants. However, the bio-inertness of PEEK’s surface has limited its applications. Ambient sulfonation has been adopted to enhance bioactivity, but its nanoscale topographic changes are insufficient for implant-bone interlock. To further improve bone-implant interlock, this study employs CO2 laser machining to create sub-millimeter (0.5 mm) grooves on PEEK’s surface, aiming to encourage bone ingrowth and strengthen the implant-bone interface. This research investigated the physical and chemical properties and bio-interaction of PEEK surface modified by sulfonation (SPEEK), laser machining (L-PEEK), and combination of both technique (L-SPEEK). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) spectra revealed that sulfonation compensates for the surface chemical shift instigated by laser ablation, aligning the surface chemistry of L-SPEEK with that of SPEEK. Furthermore, L-PEEK surfaces presented pores with sizes ranging from 1 to 600 μm, while SPEEK surfaces exhibited pores between 5 and 700 nm. All tested samples demonstrated non-cytotoxicity, with L-SPEEK exhibiting the highest mineralization and ALP activity as 2 and 2.1 times that of intrinsic PEEK, after 21 days of incubation. Microscopic imaging reveals a notably higher extracellular content on L-SPEEK compared to the other groups. This study underscores the potential of combining sub-millimeter laser machining with sulfonation in enhancing early osteogenic markers, providing a promising pathway for future PEEK-based orthopedic applications.