Background: Bone substitutes, either from human (autografts and allografts) or animal (xenografts) sources, suffer from inherent drawbacks including limited availability or potential infectivity to name a few. In the last decade, synthetic biomaterials have emerged as a valid alternative for biomedical applications in the field of orthopedic and maxillofacial surgery. In particular, phosphate-based bone substitution materials have exhibited a high biocompatibility due to their chemical similitude with natural hydroxyapatite. Besides the nature of the biomaterial, its porous and interconnected architecture is essential for a correct osseointegration. This performance could be predicted with an extensive characterization of the biomaterial in vitro. Methods: In this study, we compared the biological, chemical, and structural features of four different commercially available bone substitutes derived from an animal or a synthetic source. To this end, µ-CT and SEM were used to describe the biomaterials structure. Both FTIR and EDS analyses were carried out to provide a chemical characterization. The results obtained by these techniques were correlated with cell adhesion and proliferation of the osteosarcoma MG-63 human cell line cultured in vitro. Results: The findings reported in this paper indicate a significant influence of both the nature and the structure of the biomaterials in cell adhesion and proliferation, which ultimately could affect the clinical performance of the biomaterials. Conclusions: The four commercially available bone substitutes investigated in this work significantly differed in terms of structural features, which ultimately influenced in vitro cell proliferation and may so affect the clinical performance of the biomaterials.
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