Graphene Oxide-Copper Nanocomposite-Coated Porous CaP Scaffold for Vascularized Bone Regeneration via Activation of Hif-1α

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Graphene has been studied for its in vitro osteoinductive capacity. However, the in vivo bone repair effects of graphene-based scaffolds remain unknown. The aqueous soluble graphene oxide-copper nanocomposites (GO-Cu) are fabricated, which are used to coat porous calcium phosphate (CaP) scaffolds for vascularized bone regeneration. The GO-Cu nanocomposites, containing crystallized CuO/Cu2O nanoparticles of ≈30 nm diameters, distribute uniformly on the surfaces of the porous scaffolds and maintain a long-term release of Cu ions. In vitro, the GO-Cu coating enhances the adhesion and osteogenic differentiation of rat bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs). It is also found that by activating the Erk1/2 signaling pathway, the GO-Cu nanocomposites upregulate the expression of Hif-1α in BMSCs, resulting in the secretion of VEGF and BMP-2 proteins. When transplanted into rat with critical-sized calvarial defects, the GO-Cu-coated calcium phosphate cement (CPC) scaffolds (CPC/GO-Cu) significantly promote angiogenesis and osteogenesis. Moreover, it is observed via histological sections that the GO-Cu nanocomposites are phagocytosed by multinucleated giant cells. The results suggest that GO-Cu nanocomposite coatings can be utilized as an attractive strategy for vascularized bone regeneration.

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