Osteostatin potentiates the bioactivity of mesoporous glass scaffolds containing Zn2+ ions in human mesenchymal stem cells

There is an urgent need of biosynthetic bone grafts with enhanced osteogenic capacity. In this study, we describe the design of hierarchical meso-macroporous 3D-scaffolds based on mesoporous bioactive glasses (MBGs), enriched with the peptide osteostatin and Zn2+ ions, and their osteogenic effect on human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) as a preclinical strategy in bone regeneration. The MBG compositions investigated were 80%SiO2–15%CaO–5%P2O5 (in mol-%) Blank (BL), and two analogous glasses containing 4% ZnO (4ZN) and 5% ZnO (5ZN). By using additive fabrication techniques, scaffolds exhibiting hierarchical porosity: mesopores (around 4 nm), macropores (1–600 μm) and big channels (∼1000 μm), were prepared. These MBG scaffolds with or without osteostatin were evaluated in hMCSs cultures. Zinc promoted hMSCs colonization (both the surface and inside) of MBG scaffolds. Moreover, Zn2+ ions and osteostatin together, but not independently, in the scaffolds were found to induce the osteoblast differentiation genes runt related transcription factor-2 (RUNX2) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in hMSCs after 7 d of culture in the absence of an osteogenic differentiation-promoting medium. These results add credence to the combined use of zinc and osteostatin as an effective strategy for bone regeneration applications.