Scientific Papers

Hydroxyapatite 3D-printed scaffolds with Gyroid-Triply periodic minimal surface porous structure: Fabrication and an in vivo pilot study in sheep rights and content


Bone repair is a major challenge in regenerative medicine, e.g. for large defects. There is a need for bioactive, highly percolating bone substitutes favoring bone ingrowth and tissue healing. Here, a modern 3D printing approach (VAT photopolymerization) was exploited to fabricate hydroxyapatite (HA) scaffolds with a Gyroid-“Triply periodic minimal surface” (TPMS) porous structure (65% porosity, 90.5% HA densification) inspired from trabecular bone. Percolation and absorption capacities were analyzed in gaseous and liquid conditions. Mechanical properties relevant to guided bone regeneration in non-load bearing sites, as for maxillofacial contour reconstruction, were evidenced from 3-point bending tests and macrospherical indentation. Scaffolds were implanted in a clinically-relevant large animal model (sheep femur), over 6 months, enabling thorough analyses at short (4 weeks) and long (26 weeks) time points. In vivo performances were systematically compared to the bovine bone-derived Bio-Oss standard. The local tissue response was examined thoroughly by semi-quantitative histopathology. Results demonstrated the absence of toxicity. Bone healing was assessed by bone dynamics analysis through epifluorescence using various fluorochromes and quantitative histomorphometry. Performant bone regeneration was evidenced with similar overall performances to the control, although the Gyroid biomaterial slightly outperformed Bio-Oss at early healing time in terms of osteointegration and appositional mineralization. This work is considered a pilot study on the in vivo evaluation of TPMS-based 3D porous scaffolds in a large animal model, for an extended period of time, and in comparison to a clinical standard. Our results confirm the relevance of such scaffolds for bone regeneration in view of clinical practice.

Statement of significance

Bone repair, e.g. for large bone defects or patients with defective vascularization is still a major challenge.

Highly percolating TPMS porous structures have recently emerged, but no in vivo data were reported on a large animal model of clinical relevance and comparing to an international standard.

Here, we fabricated TPMS scaffolds of HA, determined their chemical, percolation and mechanical features, and ran an in-depth pilot study in the sheep with a systematic comparison to the Bio-Oss reference.

Our results clearly show the high bone-forming capability of such scaffolds, with outcomes even better than Bio-Oss at short implantation time. This preclinical work provides quantitative data validating the relevance of such TMPS porous scaffolds for bone regeneration in view of clinical evaluation.


Bone scaffolds




Large animal model

Additive manufacturing

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Acta Materialia Inc.

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