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Chitosan-Magnesium Composite Scaffolds

Roslyn VanSickle1, Udhab Adhikari2, Narayan Bhattarai2.


1.Washington State University, 2.North Carolina A&T State University

Introduction: Currently there are two solutions when a patient has a bone defect too large to heal on its own,
these are autographs, taking bone from another location in the patient’s body, or allographs, taking bone from a
donor’s body. The issues with these solutions are the chances for rejection of the scaffold and limited supply,
creating the need for a man-made scaffold. A synthetic alternative must be biocompatible, biodegradable, porous,
and meet the mechanical properties required by the bone that it is replacing. These requirements led to the choice
of materials. Chitosan is a natural polymer derived from the shells of crustaceans and is biocompatible and
biodegradable for this reason. The positive charge of chitosan attracts growth factors to aid in bone regeneration.
Magnesium ions improve bone regeneration and power our enzymes. The question studied was will the addition
of magnesium benefit the characteristics of chitosan scaffolds?

Materials and Methods: The scaffolds were comprised of chitosan (CS) which was dissolved in 2% acetic acid,
carboxymethyl chitosan (CMC) and magnesium oxide (MgO) or magnesium gluconate (MgG). The
homogeneously mixed solution was cast into a 48 well plate, underwent freezing at 0, -20, -80 ˚C for specific
times and were then placed in a freeze dryer for 72 hours. This process created a porous structure through the
formation and sublimation of ice crystals. There were four tests used to characterize the scaffolds. These included:
SEM imaging to analyze the morphology, a swelling and magnesium release study to observe performance under
human body conditions (n=3), and mechanical testing to determine the compressive strength and modulus of the
scaffold (n=3).

Results and Discussion: The scaffolds with MgO did not form correctly while the control scaffolds (with no
magnesium) and the ones with MgG did. SEM images showed that as the amount of CS/CMC increased the
thickness of the pore walls, but there was no observable difference between the different amounts of MgG. The
swelling study did not follow the predicted trend that as the amount of CS/CMC was increased the absorption of
the scaffold would decrease. However, the study showed that the addition of MgG increased the absorption of the
scaffolds. The magnesium release study resulted in a trend exhibiting that magnesium was released over time. The
mechanical testing data showed an increase in compressive strength and modulus with the addition of MgG.

Figure 1. Compressive modulus of the scaffolds with 0, 2.5, 5


and 7.5 % MgG added to 5% CS/CMC solution. The modulus
shows an increase with the addition of MgG, reaching a
maximum of ~1.35 MPa with 5% MgG.

Conclusions: From the results of the SEM analysis it is evident that scaffolds with interconnected and porous
morphology were successfully synthesized. The prepared scaffolds maintained sufficient mechanical strength and
original framework in aqueous medium, during the swelling and magnesium release studies. The addition of
magnesium gluconate creates a scaffold with greater mechanical stability. The scaffolds hold promise for the
future of synthetic bone scaffolds. Future work must be completed to further characterize and understand the
osteoconductive/osteoinductive nature of the current scaffolds. Other variations of magnesium could be tested and
the properties studied and compared to these values.

Acknowledgements: This work is supported financially by the National Science Foundation Engineering
Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials. Special thanks to Nava Rijal, Shalil Khanal, the
Bhattarai Lab team, as well as the faculty and staff at North Carolina A&T State University.