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1.  Non-invasive monitoring of BMP-2 retention and bone formation in composites for bone tissue engineering using SPECT/CT and scintillation probes 
Non-invasive imaging can provide essential information for the optimization of new drug delivery-based bone regeneration strategies to repair damaged or impaired bone tissue. This study investigates the applicability of nuclear medicine and radiological techniques to monitor growth factor retention profiles and subsequent effects on bone formation. Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2, 6.5 μg/scaffold) was incorporated into a sustained release vehicle consisting of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) microspheres embedded in a poly(propylene fumarate) scaffold surrounded by a gelatin hydrogel and implanted subcutaneously and in 5-mm segmental femoral defects in 9 rats for a period of 56 days. To determine the pharmacokinetic profile, BMP-2 was radiolabeled with 125I and the local retention of 125I-BMP-2 was measured by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), scintillation probes and ex vivo scintillation analysis. Bone formation was monitored by micro-computed tomography (μCT). The scaffolds released BMP-2 in a sustained fashion over the 56-day implantation period. A good correlation between the SPECT and scintillation probe measurements was found and there were no significant differences between the non-invasive and ex-vivo counting method after 8 weeks of follow up. SPECT analysis of the total body and thyroid counts showed a limited accumulation of 125I within the body. Ectopic bone formation was induced in the scaffolds and the femur defects healed completely. In vivo μCT imaging detected the first signs of bone formation at days 14 and 28 for the orthotopic and ectopic implants, respectively, and provided a detailed profile of the bone formation rate. Overall, this study clearly demonstrates the benefit of applying non-invasive techniques in drug delivery-based bone regeneration strategies by providing detailed and reliable profiles of the growth factor retention and bone formation at different implantation sites in a limited number of animals.
PMCID: PMC3974410  PMID: 19105972
Drug delivery; Controlled release; Bone morphogenetic protein-2; Single photon emission computed; tomography; Scintillation probes; Micro-computed tomography
2.  Accuracy of Motor Axon Regeneration Across Autograft, Single Lumen, and Multichannel Poly(lactic-co-glycolic Acid) (PLGA) Nerve Tubes 
Neurosurgery  2008;63(1):144-155.
Accuracy of motor axon regeneration becomes an important issue in the development of a nerve tube for motor nerve repair. Dispersion of regeneration across the nerve tube may lead to misdirection and polyinnervation. In this study, we present a series of methods to investigate the accuracy of regeneration, which we used to compare regeneration across autografts and single lumen poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nerve tubes. We also present the concept of the multichannel nerve tube that may limit dispersion by separately guiding groups of regenerating axons.
Simultaneous tracing of the tibial and peroneal nerves with fast blue (FB) and diamidino yellow (DY), 8 weeks after repair of a 1-cm nerve gap in the rat sciatic nerve, was performed to determine the percentage of double-projecting motoneurons. Sequential tracing of the peroneal nerve with DY 1 week before and FB 8 weeks after repair was performed to determine the percentage of correctly directed peroneal motoneurons.
In the cases in which there was successful regeneration across single lumen nerve tubes, more motoneurons had double projections to both the tibial and peroneal nerve branches after single lumen nerve tube repair (21.4%) than after autograft repair (5.9%). After multichannel nerve tube repair, this percentage was slightly reduced (16.9%), although not significantly. The direction of regeneration was nonspecific after all types of repair.
Retrograde tracing techniques provide new insights into the process of regeneration across nerve tubes. The methods and data presented in this study can be used as a basis in the development of a nerve tube for motor nerve repair.
PMCID: PMC3463233  PMID: 18728579
misdirection; axon targeting; double labeling; peripheral nerve regeneration; rat sciatic nerve model; retrograde tracing
3.  Photo-Crosslinked Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) Networks: Roles of Crystallinity and Crosslinking Density in Determining Mechanical Properties 
Polymer  2008;49(26):5692-5699.
We present a material design strategy of combining crystallinity and crosslinking to control the mechanical properties of polymeric biomaterials. Three polycaprolactone fumarates (PCLF530, PCLF1250, and PCLF2000) synthesized from the precursor polycaprolactone (PCL) diols with nominal molecular weights of 530, 1250, and 2000 g.mol-1, respectively, were employed to fabricate polymer networks via photo-crosslinking process. Five different amounts of photo-crosslinking initiator were applied during fabrication in order to understand the role of photoinitiator in modulating the crosslinking characteristics and physical properties of PCLF networks. Thermal properties such as glass transition temperature (Tg), melting temperature (Tm), and degradation temperature (Td) of photo-crosslinked PCLFs were examined and correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties.
PMCID: PMC2951835  PMID: 20936057
Polycaprolactone fumarate; Photo-crosslinking; Mechanical Properties
4.  Photo-crosslinked Hybrid Polymer Networks Consisting of Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF): Controlled Physical Properties and Regulated Bone and Nerve Cell Responses 
Biomacromolecules  2008;9(4):1229-1241.
Aiming to achieve suitable polymeric biomaterials with controlled physical properties for hard and soft tissue replacements, we have developed a series of blends consisting of two photo-crosslinkable polymers: polypropylene fumarate (PPF) and polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF). Physical properties of both uncrosslinked and UV crosslinked PPF/PCLF blends with PPF composition ranging from 0% to 100% have been investigated extensively. It has been found that the physical properties such as thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties could be modulated efficiently by varying the PPF composition in the blends. Thermal properties including glass transition temperature (Tg) and melting temperature (Tm) have been correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties. Surface characteristics such as surface morphology, hydrophilicity and the capability of adsorbing serum protein from culture medium have also been examined for the crosslinked polymer and blend discs. For potential applications in bone and nerve tissue engineering, in vitro cell studies including cytotoxicity, cell adhesion, and proliferation on crosslinked discs with controlled physical properties have been performed using rat bone marrow stromal cells and SPL201 cells, respectively. In addition, the role of mechanical properties such as surface stiffness in modulating cell responses has been emphasized using this model blend system.
PMCID: PMC2888142  PMID: 18307311
Photo-crosslinking; Polymer blends; Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF); Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF); Controlled physical properties; Cell responses
5.  Effect of Autologous Bone Marrow Stromal Cell Seeding and Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 Delivery on Ectopic Bone Formation in a Microsphere/Poly(Propylene Fumarate) Composite 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2008;15(3):587-594.
A biodegradable microsphere/scaffold composite based on the synthetic polymer poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) holds promise as a scaffold for cell growth and sustained delivery vehicle for growth factors for bone regeneration. The objective of the current work was to investigate the in vitro release and in vivo bone forming capacity of this microsphere/scaffold composite containing bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) in combination with autologous bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) in a goat ectopic implantation model. Three composites consisting of 0, 0.08, or 8 μg BMP-2 per mg of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) microspheres, embedded in a porous PPF scaffold, were combined with either plasma (no cells) or culture-expanded BMSCs. PPF scaffolds impregnated with a BMP-2 solution and combined with BMSCs as well as empty PPF scaffolds were also tested. The eight different composites were implanted subcutaneously in the dorsal thoracolumbar area of goats. Incorporation of BMP-2–loaded microspheres in the PPF scaffold resulted in a more sustained in vitro release with a lower burst phase, as compared to BMP-2–impregnated scaffolds. Histological analysis after 9 weeks of implantation showed bone formation in the pores of 11/16 composites containing 8 μg/mg BMP-2–loaded microspheres with no significant difference between composites with or without BMSCs (6/8 and 5/8, respectively). Bone formation was also observed in 1/8 of the BMP-2–impregnated scaffolds. No bone formation was observed in the other conditions. Overall, this study shows the feasibility of bone induction by BMP-2 release from microspheres/scaffold composites.
PMCID: PMC2810278  PMID: 18925831
6.  Cellular Uptake of Gold Nanoparticles Directly Cross-linked with Carrier Peptides by Osteosarcoma Cells 
Nanoparticles have been extensively used for a variety of biomedical applications and there is a growing need for highly specific and efficient delivery of the nanoparticles into target cells and subcellular location. We attempted to accomplish this goal by modifying gold particles with peptide motif’s that are known to deliver a ‘cargo’ into chosen cellular location specifically, we intended to deliver nanogold particles into cells through chemical cross-linking with different peptides known to carry protein into cells. Our results suggest that specific sequence of such ‘carrier peptides’ can efficiently deliver gold nanoparticles into cells when chemically cross-linked with the metal particles.
PMCID: PMC2824438  PMID: 18807262
7.  2-Methoxyestradiol-induced Cell Death in Osteosarcoma Cells is Preceded by Cell Cycle Arrest 
2-Methoxyestradiol (2-ME), a naturally occurring mammalian metabolite of 17β-Estradiol (E2), induces cell death in osteosarcoma cells. To further understand the molecular mechanisms of action, we have investigated cell cycle progression in 2-ME-treated human osteosarcoma (MG63, SaOS-2 and LM8) cells. At 5 μM, 2-ME induced growth arrest by inducing a block in cell cycle; 2-ME-treatment resulted in 2-fold increases in G1 phase cells and a decrease in S phase cells in MG63 and SaOS-2 osteosarcoma cell lines, compared to the appropriate vehicle controls. 2-ME-treatment induced a 3-fold increase in the G2 phase in LM8 osteosarcoma cells. The results demonstrated steroid specificity, as the tumorigenic metabolite, 16α-hydroxyestradiol (16-OHE), did not have any effect on cell cycle progression in osteosarcoma cells. The cell cycle arrest coincided with an increase in expression of the cell cycle markers p21, p27 and p53 proteins in 2-ME-treated osteosarcoma cells. Also, MG63 cells, transiently transfected with cDNA for a ‘loss of function mutant” RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) protein, were resistant to 2-ME-induced cell cycle arrest. These results suggest that 2-ME works in concert with factors regulating cell cycle progression, and cell cycle arrest precedes cell death in 2-ME-treated osteosarcoma cells.
PMCID: PMC2821714  PMID: 18384113
estrogen metabolite; MG63 cells; cell cycle arrest; PKR
8.  Rigid Fixation of the Spinal Column Improves Scaffold Alignment and Prevents Scoliosis in the Transected Rat Spinal Cord 
Spine  2008;33(24):E914-E919.
Study Design
A controlled study to evaluate a new technique for spinal rod fixation after spinal cord injury in rats. Alignment of implanted tissue-engineered scaffolds was assessed radiographically and by magnetic resonance imaging.
To evaluate the stability of implanted scaffolds and the extent of kyphoscoliotic deformities after spinal fixation.
Summary of Background Data
Biodegradable scaffolds provide an excellent platform for the quantitative assessment of cellular and molecular factors that promote regeneration within the transected cord. Successful delivery of scaffolds to the damaged cord can be hampered by malalignment following transplantation, which in turn, hinders the assessment of neural regeneration.
Radio-opaque barium sulfate-impregnated poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid scaffolds were implanted into spinal transection injuries in adult rats. Spinal fixation was performed in one group of animals using a metal rod fixed to the spinous processes above and below the site of injury, while the control group received no fixation. Radiographic morphometry was performed after 2 and 4 weeks, and 3-dimensional magnetic resonance microscopy analysis 4 weeks after surgery.
Over the course of 4 weeks, progressive scoliosis was evident in the unfixed group, where a Cobb angle of 8.13 ± 2.03° was measured. The fixed group demonstrated significantly less scoliosis, with a Cobb angle measurement of 1.89 ± 0.75° (P = 0.0004). Similarly, a trend for less kyphosis was evident in the fixed group (7.33 ± 1.68°) compared with the unfixed group (10.13 ± 1.46°). Quantitative measurements of the degree of malalignment of the scaffolds were also significantly less in the fixed group (5 ± 1.23°) compared with the unfixed group (11 ± 2.82°) (P = 0.0143).
Radio-opaque barium sulfate allows for visualization of scaffolds in vivo using radiographic analysis. Spinal fixation was shown to prevent scoliosis, reduce kyphosis, and reduce scaffold malalignment within the transected rat spinal cord. Using a highly optimized model will increase the potential for finding a therapy for restoring function to the injured cord.
PMCID: PMC2773001  PMID: 19011531
spine fixation; transection spinal cord injury; scaffold; scoliosis
9.  Non-invasive screening method for simultaneous evaluation of in vivo growth factor release profiles from multiple ectopic bone tissue engineering implants 
The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a screening method based on scintillation probes for the simultaneous evaluation of in vivo growth factor release profiles of multiple implants in the same animal. First, we characterized the scintillation probes in a series of in vitro experiments to optimize the accuracy of the measurement setup. The scintillation probes were found to have a strong geometric dependence and experience saturation effects at high activities. In vitro simulation of 4 subcutaneous limb implants in a rat showed minimal interference of surrounding implants on local measurements at close to parallel positioning of the probes. These characteristics were taken into consideration for the design of the probe setup and in vivo experiment. The measurement setup was then validated in a rat subcutaneous implantation model using 4 different sustained release carriers loaded with 125I-BMP-2 per animal. The implants were removed after 42 or 84 days of implantation, for comparison of the non-invasive method to ex-vivo radioisotope counting. The non-invasive method demonstrated a good correlation with the ex-vivo counting method at both time-points of all 4 carriers. Overall, this study showed that scintillation probes could be successfully used for paired measurement of 4 release profiles with minimal interference of the surrounding implants, and may find use as non-invasive screening tools for various drug delivery applications.
PMCID: PMC2601638  PMID: 18554743
Controlled drug delivery; non-invasive screening; scintillation detector; radiolabelled growth factor; method validation
10.  Physical Properties and Cellular Responses to Crosslinkable Poly(Propylene Fumarate)/Hydroxyapatite Nanocomposites 
Biomaterials  2008;29(19):2839-2848.
A series of crosslinkable nanocomposites has been developed using hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles and poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF). PPF/HA nanocomposites with four different weight fractions of HA nanoparticles have been characterized in terms of thermal and mechanical properties. To assess surface chemistry of crosslinked PPF/HA nanocomposites, their hydrophilicity and capability of adsorbing proteins have been determined using static contact angle measurement and MicroBCA protein assay kit after incubation with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS), respectively. In vitro cell studies have been performed using MC3T3-E1 mouse pre-osteoblast cells to investigate the ability of PPF/HA nanocomposites to support cell attachment, spreading, and proliferation after 1, 4, and 7 days. By adding HA nanoparticles to PPF, the mechanical properties of crosslinked PPF/HA nanocomposites have not been increased due to the initially high modulus of crosslinked PPF. However, hydrophilicity and serum protein adsorption on the surface of nanocomposites have been significantly increased, resulting in enhanced cell attachment, spreading, and proliferation after 4 days of cell seeding. These results indicate that crosslinkable PPF/HA nanocomposites are useful for hard tissue replacement because of excellent mechanical strength and osteoconductivity.
PMCID: PMC2430424  PMID: 18403013
Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF); Hydroxyapatite (HA); Nanocomposite; Protein adsorption; Osteoblast response
11.  Effect of Hydrogel Porosity on Marrow Stromal Cell Phenotypic Expression 
Biomaterials  2008;29(14):2193-2202.
This study describes investigation of porous photocrosslinked oligo[(polyethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF) hydrogels as potential matrix for osteoblastic differentiation of marrow stromal cells (MSCs). The porosity and interconnectivity of porous hydrogels were assessed using magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM) as a noninvasive investigative tool that could image the water construct inside the hydrogels at a high spatial resolution. MSCs were cultured onto the porous hydrogels and cell number was assessed using PicoGreen DNA assay. Our results showed 10% of cells initially attached to the surface of scaffolds. However, cells did not show significant proliferation over a time period of 14 days. MSCs cultured on porous hydrogels had increased alkaline phosphatase activity as well as deposition of calcium, suggesting successful differentiation and maturation to the osteoblastic phenotype. Moreover, continued expression of type I collagen and osteonectin over 14 days confirmed osteoblastic differentiation of MSCs. MRM was also applied to monitor osteogenesis of MSCs on porous hydrogels. MRM images showed porous scaffolds became consolidated with osteogenic progression of cell differentiation. These findings indicate that porous OPF scaffolds enhanced MSC differentiation leading to development of bone-like mineralized tissue.
PMCID: PMC2386206  PMID: 18262642
Hydrogel; oligo[(polyethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF); Marrow stromal cells; Magnetic resonance microscopy; Osteogenesis

Results 1-11 (11)