METHODS: This animal protocol has been approved by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Animal Ethical Committee. The TEHB scaffold prepared from hydroxyapatite using gel casting method. A total of six adolescent female sheep were chosen for this study. Later, all the sheep were euthanized in a proper manner and the bone harvested for biomechanical study. Bone marrow was collected from iliac crest of the sheep and bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs) isolated and cultured. BMSCs then cultured in osteogenic medium for osteoprogenitor cells development and the plasma collected was seeded with osteoprogenitor cells mixed with calcium chloride. Bone defect of 3 cm length of tibia bone created from each sheep leg and implanted with autologous and TEHB scaffold in 2 different groups of sheep. Wound site was monitored weekly until the wound completely healed and conventional X-ray performed at week 1 and 24. Shear test was conducted to determine the shear force on the autologous bone and TEHB scaffold after implantation for 24 weeks.
RESULTS: All of the sheep survived without any complications during the study period and radiograph showed new bone formation. Later, the bone harvested was for biomechanical study. The highest shear force for the autologous group was 13 MPa and the lowest was 5 MPa while for the scaffold group, the highest was 10 MPa and the lowest was 3 MPa. Although, proximal and distal interface of autologous bone graft shows higher shear strength compared to the TEHB scaffold but there is no significant difference in both groups, p value > 0.05. Histologically in both proximal and distal interface in both arms shows bone healing and woven bone formation.
CONCLUSION: TEHB scaffold impregnated with osteoprogenitor cells has the potential to be developed as a bone substitute in view of its strength and capability to promote bone regeneration.