Controlled release of NELL-1 protein from chitosan/hydroxyapatite-modified TCP particles

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NEL-like molecule-1 (NELL-1) is a novel osteogenic protein that showing high specificity to osteochondral cells. It was widely used in bone regeneration research by loading onto carriers such as tricalcium phosphate (TCP) particles. However, there has been little research on protein controlled release from this material and its potential application. In this study, TCP was first modified with a hydroxyapatite coating followed by a chitosan coating to prepare chitosan/hydroxyapatite-coated TCP particles (Chi/HA-TCP). The preparation was characterized by SEM, EDX, FTIR, XRD, FM and Zeta potential measurements. The NELL-1 loaded Chi/HA-TCP particles and the release kinetics were investigated in vitro. It was observed that the Chi/HA-TCP particles prepared with the 0.3% (wt/wt) chitosan solution were able to successfully control the release of NELL-1 and maintain a slow, steady release for up to 28 days. Furthermore, more than 78% of the loaded protein's bioactivity was preserved in Chi/HA-TCP particles over the period of the investigation, which was significantly higher than that of the protein released from hydroxyapatite coated TCP (HA-TCP) particles. Collectively, this study suggests that the osteogenic protein NELL-1 showed a sustained release pattern after being encapsulated into the modified Chi/HA-TCP particles, and the NELL-1 integrated composite of Chi/HA-TCP showed a potential to function as a protein delivery carrier and as an improved bone matrix for use in bone regeneration research.

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