In vitro and in vivo studies on zinc-hydroxyapatite composites as novel biodegradable metal matrix composite for orthopedic applications
Recent studies indicate that there is a great demand to optimize pure Zn with tunable degradation rates and more desirable biocompatibility as orthopedic implants. Metal matrix composite (MMC) can be a promising approach for this purpose. In this study, MMC with pure Zn as a matrix and hydroxyapatite (HA) as reinforcements were prepared by spark plasma sintering (SPS). Feasibility of novel Zn-HA composites to be used as orthopedic implant applications was systematically evaluated. After sintering, HA distributed in the Zn particle boundaries uniformly. Corrosion tests indicated that the degradation rates of Zn-HA composites were adjustable due to the biphasic effects of HA. Zn-HA composites showed significantly improved cell viability of osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells compared with pure Zn. Both pure Zn and composites exhibited a low thrombosis risk and hemolysis rates while a Zn ion concentration-dependent effect was found on coagulation time. An effective antibacterial property was observed as well. The volume loss of pure Zn and Zn-5HA composite was 1.7% and 3.2% after 8 weeks’ implantation. Histological analysis found newly formed bone surrounding pure Zn and Zn-5HA composite at week 4 and increased bone mass over time. With prolonged implantation time, Zn-5HA composite was more effective on stimulating new bone formation than pure Zn. In summary, MMC is a feasible way to design Zn based materials with adjustable degradation rates and improved biocompatibility.