The materials for the repair of bone defects require bone-inductive and bioabsorbable properties. We developed an apatite-coated hyaluronan (ACH) as a bone-regeneration material. To examine the initial behavior of osteoblast-like cells on ACH and its bone-inductive activity, we evaluated the proliferation and differentiation of osteoblast-like cells grown on ACH in vitro, and examined the effect of ACH on bone regeneration in vivo, comparing these with the effects of an atelocollagen sponge (AS). Hyaluronic acid, cross-linked by divinylsulfone, was freeze-dried and formed apatite in simulated body fluid. MC3T3-E1 osteoblast-like cells were cultured on ACH and AS. Alkaline phosphatase activity and osteocalcin mRNA expression increased more in cells grown on ACH than in those grown on AS. In vivo, round defects were created in rat crania and either filled with ACH or AS or left unfilled (sham group). After surgery, the ACH-treated group showed higher levels of bone formation than the other groups. These findings demonstrate that ACH is more effective than AS in promoting in vitro osteoblast-like cell differentiation and bone formation during the repair of bone defects in vivo, indicating that it may be of use in the treatment of various bone defects.
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