Clinically, S53P4 bioactive glass (BAG) has shown very promising results in bone infection treatment, but it is also known to degrade very slowly in vivo. To evaluate which mechanisms (cellular or dissolution) can play a role in the degradation of S53P4 BAG and S53P4 BAG putty, in vitro degradation experiments at different pH (7.4 and 4.6) were performed. Micro computed tomography showed a rapid dissolution of the synthetic binder in the putty formulation, within 12 h is simulated body fluid (pH = 7.4), leaving behind only loose granules. Therefore the degradation of the loose granules was investigated further. Significant weight loss was observed and ion chromatography showed that Ca2+, Na+ and PO43- ions were released from S54P4 BAG granules in the two fluids. It was observed that the weight loss and ion release were increased when the pH of the fluid was decreased to 4.6. Osteoclasts are known to create such a low pH when resorbing bone and therefore their capacity to degrade S53P4 surfaces were studied as well. Scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy confirmed that osteoclasts were able to create resorption pits in the calcium phosphate layer on S53P4 BAG surfaces. The silica of the BAG, located underneath the calcium phosphate, seemed to hinder further osteclastic resorption of the material. To our knowledge we were the first to observe actively resorbing osteoclasts on S53P4 bioactive glass surfaces, in vitro. Future research is needed to define the specific role osteoclasts play in the degradation of BAG in vivo.
Full Access Link: Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine