3D-Printed Ceramic-Demineralized Bone Matrix Hyperelastic Bone Composite Scaffolds for Spinal Fusion

Tissue Engineering: Part A 2020 Volume: 26 Issue 3-4, Pages 157-166

Although numerous spinal biologics are commercially available, a cost-effective and safe bone graft substitute material for spine fusion has yet to be proven. In this study, “3D-Paints” containing varying volumetric ratios of hydroxyapatite (HA) and human demineralized bone matrix (DBM) in a poly(lactide-co-glycolide) elastomer were three-dimensional (3D) printed into scaffolds to promote osteointegration in rats, with an end goal of spine fusion without the need for recombinant growth factor. Spine fusion was evaluated by manual palpation, and osteointegration and de novo bone formation within scaffold struts were evaluated by laboratory and synchrotron microcomputed tomography and histology. The 3:1 HA:DBM composite achieved the highest mean fusion score and fusion rate (92%), which was significantly greater than the 3D printed DBM-only scaffold (42%). New bone was identified extending from the host transverse processes into the scaffold macropores, and osteointegration scores correlated with successful fusion. Strikingly, the combination of HA and DBM resulted in the growth of bone-like spicules within the DBM particles inside scaffold struts. These spicules were not observed in DBM-only scaffolds, suggesting that de novo spicule formation requires both HA and DBM. Collectively, our work suggests that this recombinant growth factor-free composite shows promise to overcome the limitations of currently used bone graft substitutes for spine fusion.