In vivo cyclic loading as a potent stimulatory signal for bone formation inside tissue engineering scaffolds
In clinical situations, bone defects are often located at load bearing sites. Tissue engineering scaffolds are future bone substitutes and hence they will be subjected to mechanical stimulation. The goal of this study was to test if cyclic loading can be used as stimulatory signal for bone formation in a bone scaffold. PLA/ 5% β-TCP scaffolds were implanted in both distal femoral epiphyses of eight rats. Right knees were stimulated (10N, 4Hz, 5min) five times, every two days, starting from the third day after surgery while left knees served as control. Finite element study of the in vivo model showed that the strain applied to the scaffold is similar to physiological strains. Using micro-CT, all knees were scanned five times after the surgery and the related bone parameters of the newly formed bone were quantified. Statistical modeling was used to estimate the evolution of these parameters as a function of time and loading. The results showed that mechanical stimulation had two effects on bone volume (BV): an initial decrease in BV at week 2, and a long-term increase in the rate of bone formation by 28%. At week 13, the BV was then significantly higher in the loaded scaffolds.