Calcium phosphate (CaP)/polymer composites have been studied as an alternative graft material for the treatment of bone defects. In this study, lysine-triisocyanate-based polyurethane (PUR) composites were synthesized from both hydroxyapatite (HA) and β-tricalcium phosphate (TCP) to reduce the brittleness of CaP and increase the bioactivity of the polymer. The mechanical properties and in vitro cellular response were investigated for both HA/PUR and TCP/PUR composites. The composites were implanted in femoral defects in rats, and in vivo bioactivity was evaluated by X-rays, micro-computed tomography (μCT), and histological sections. In biomechanical testing, PUR improved the mechanical properties of the CaP, thus rendering it potentially suitable for weight-bearing applications. In vitro cell culture studies showed that CaP/PUR composites are biocompatible, with β-TCP enhancing the cell viability and proliferation relative to HA. CaP/PUR composites also supported the differentiation of osteoblastic cells on the materials. When implanted in rat femoral defects, the CaP/PUR composites were biocompatible and osteoconductive with no adverse inflammatory response, as evidenced by X-rays, μCT images, and histological sections. Additionally, a histological examination showed evidence of cellular infiltration and appositional remodeling. These results suggest that CaP/PUR composites could be potentially useful biomaterials for weight-bearing orthopaedic implants.
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