In vitro characterization of a calcium sulfate/PLLA composite for use as a bone graft material

Sachin S. Mamidwar, Christopher Arena, Shawn Kelly, Harold Alexander, John Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A study was conducted to characterize the dissolution, morphology, and chemical composition of a calcium sulfate/poly (L-lactic acid) (CS/PLLA) composite material before and after immersion in simulated body fluid (SBF). Twelve groups of experimental samples were prepared by coating CS pellets 1, 2, 3, or 4 times with one of three concentrations of a PLLA solution and wrapping them in mesh; CS pellets for use as controls were similarly prepared but not coated. The PLLA coating added from 1 to 22% to the weight of experimental pellets; scanning electron microscopy revealed that the coating thickness ranged from 2 to 50 μm depending on the concentration of the coating solution and the number of coatings. All samples were immersed in SBF for up to 97 days. After immersion, the experimental coatings thinned out, small cracks and holes formed in the coating, and the coating became roughened. Mean dissolution rates for each of the 12 CS/PLLA groups were significantly lower than those of uncoated CS pellets; among CS/PLLA groups, dissolution rates varied according to concentration of the coating solution and number of coatings. The half-life of pure CS pellets was 19 days whereas the half-life of CS/PLLA composite pellets ranged from 30 to 70 days. X-ray microprobe analysis of experimental pellets after immersion in SBF revealed that mineralization occurred in the CS portion of these pellets as well as on the coating; most of the mineral was calcium phosphate, most of which was on the coating. Further studies will be required to confirm this composite's promise as a clinically effective osteoconductive material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Bone grafting
  • Calcium sulfate
  • Degradation
  • Osteoconductive
  • PLLA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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