Bone fractures at weight-bearing sites are challenging to treat due to the difficulty in maintaining articular congruency. An ideal biomaterial for fracture repair near articulating joints sets rapidly after implantation, stabilizes the fracture with minimal rigid implants, stimulates new bone formation, and remodels at a rate that maintains osseous integrity. Consequently, the design of biomaterials that mechanically stabilize fractures while remodeling to form new bone is an unmet challenge in bone tissue engineering. In this study, we investigated remodeling of resorbable bone cements in a stringent model of mechanically loaded tibial plateau defects in sheep. Nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite-poly(ester urethane) (nHA-PEUR) hybrid polymers were augmented with either ceramic granules (85% β-tricalcium phosphate/15% hydroxyapatite, CG) or a blend of CG and bioactive glass (BG) particles to form a settable bone cement. The initial compressive strength and fatigue properties of the cements were comparable to those of non-resorbable poly(methyl methacrylate) bone cement. In animals that tolerated the initial few weeks of early weight-bearing, CG/nHA-PEUR cements mechanically stabilized the tibial plateau defects and remodeled to form new bone at 16 weeks. In contrast, cements incorporating BG particles resorbed with fibrous tissue filling the defect. Furthermore, CG/nHA-PEUR cements remodeled significantly faster at the full weight-bearing tibial plateau site compared to the mechanically protected femoral condyle site in the same animal. These findings are the first to report a settable bone cement that remodels to form new bone while providing mechanical stability in a stringent large animal model of weight-bearing bone defects near an articulating joint.
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