Relationship between apatite-forming ability and mechanical properties of bioactive PMMA-based bone cement modified with calcium salts and alkoxysilane

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Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)-based bone cement is used for the fixation of artificial joints in orthopaedics. However, the fixation is liable to loosen in the body, because the cement does not bond to living bone. So-called bioactive ceramics bond directly to living bone through the apatite layer formed on their surfaces in the body. We previously revealed that modification using γ-methacryloxypropyltrimethoxysilane (MPS) and water-soluble calcium salts such as calcium acetate and calcium hydroxide was effective for providing the PMMA-based bone cement with apatite-forming ability in a simulated body fluid (SBF, Kokubo solution) that closely reproduces the body environment. However, the effect of the chemical reaction forming the apatite on the mechanical properties of the cements has not been clarified. The present work aimed to investigate this issue from the viewpoint of the interface structure between the apatite and the cement. The surface of the cement modified with calcium acetate and MPS was fully covered with newly formed apatite after soaking in Kokubo solution within 7 days, while half of the surface area of the cement modified with calcium hydroxide and MPS was covered with the apatite. The bending strength of the modified cements decreased after soaking in Kokubo solution. Porous structure was observed in the region about 50–100 μm in depth from the top surface because of release of the Ca2+ions by both modified cements after soaking in Kokubo solution. The decrease in bending strength of the modified cements could be attributed to the formation of the pores. In addition, the pores on the top surfaces of the cements were filled with the newly formed apatite. The apatite formation would be effective not only for bioactivity but also for decreasing the reduction of mechanical strength.

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