Octacalcium phosphate (OCP) is thought to be a precursor of the mineral crystals in biological apatite. Synthetic OCP has been shown to be converted into an apatite structure when implanted in murine calvarial bone, to enhance bone regeneration more than synthetic hydroxyapatite (HA), and to degrade faster than biodegradable β-tricalcium phosphate. This study was designed to investigate whether OCP implantation enhances the formation and resorption of new bone (remodeling) concomitant with OCP degradation when implanted intramedullary in a rabbit femur for 12 weeks, compared to sintered HA ceramic. Histological and histomorphometric analyses using undecalcified specimens showed that the area of bone apposition was significantly higher on OCP than on HA between 2 and 3 weeks, whereas it subsequently became smaller on OCP than on HA. The area attacked by multinucleated giant cells, including tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP)-positive cells, was significantly higher for OCP than for HA at 8 weeks. Radiography revealed resorption of OCP but not of HA. The results disclose some osteoconductive characteristics of synthetic OCP in the bone marrow space: (1) enhancement of bone regeneration at the initial bone apposition stage and (2) stimulation of resorption of the newly formed bone coupled with OCP biodegradation mediated by TRAP-positive osteoclast-like cells. These results suggest that synthetic OCP would be a more useful bone substitute than HA in implant applications where rapid bone formation and concomitant implant resorption are important considerations.
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