Delivery of BMP-2 for bone tissue engineering applications
Johnson, Mela Ronelle
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Bone defects and fracture non-unions remain a substantial challenge for clinicians due to a high occurrence of delayed union or non-union requiring surgical intervention. The current grafting procedures used to treat these injuries have many limitations and further long-term complications associated with them. This has resulted in research efforts to identify graft substitution therapies that are able to repair and replace tissue function. Many of these tissue engineered products include the use of growth factors to induce cell differentiation, migration, proliferation, and/or matrix production. However, current growth factor delivery methods are limited by poor retention of growth factors upon implantation resulting in low bioactivity. These limiting factors lead to the use of high doses and frequent injections, putting the patients at risk for adverse effects. The goal of this work was to develop and evaluate the efficacy of BMP-2 delivery systems to improve bone regeneration. We examined two approaches for delivery of BMP-2 in this work. First, we evaluated the use of a self-assembling lipid microtube system for the sustained delivery of BMP-2. We determined that sustained delivery of BMP-2 from the lipid microtube system was able to enhance osteogenic differentiation compared to empty microtubes, however did not demonstrate a significant advantage compared to a bolus BMP-2 dose in vitro. Second, we developed and assessed the functionality of an affinity-based system to sequester BMP-2 at the implant site and retain bioactivity by incorporating heparin within a collagen matrix. Incorporation of heparin in the collagen matrix improved BMP-2 retention and bioactivity, thus enhancing cell-mediated mineralized matrix deposition in vitro. Lastly, the affinity-based BMP-2 delivery system was evaluated in a challenging in vivo bone repair model. Delivery of pre-bound BMP-2 and heparin in a collagen matrix resulted in new bone formation with mechanical properties not significantly different to those of intact bone. Whereas delivery of BMP-2 in collagen or collagen/heparin matrices had similar volumes of regenerated mineralized tissue but resulted in mechanical properties significantly less than intact bone properties. The work presented in this thesis aimed to address parameters currently preventing optimal performance of protein therapies including stability, duration of exposure, and localization at the treatment site. We were able to demonstrate that sustained delivery of BMP-2 from lipid microtubes was able to induce osteogenic differentiation, although this sustained delivery approach was not significantly advantageous over a bolus dose. Additionally, we demonstrated that the affinity-based system was able to improve BMP-2 retention within the scaffold and in vitro activity. However, in vivo implantation of this system demonstrated that only delivery of pre-complexed BMP-2 and heparin resulted in regeneration of bone with mechanical properties not significantly different from intact bone. These results indicate that delivery of BMP-2 and heparin may be an advantageous strategy for clinically challenging bone defects.