Towards modular bone tissue engineering using Ti-Co-doped phosphate glass microspheres: cytocompatibility and dynamic culture studies

Carlotta Peticone, David De Silva Thompson, Gareth J Owens, Hae-Won Kim, Martina Micheletti, Jonathan C Knowles, Ivan Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production of large quantities of functional vascularized bone tissue ex vivo still represent an unmet clinical challenge. Microcarriers offer a potential solution to scalable manufacture of bone tissue due to their high surface area-to-volume ratio and the capacity to be assembled using a modular approach. Microcarriers made of phosphate bioactive glass doped with titanium dioxide have been previously shown to enhance proliferation of osteoblast progenitors and maturation towards functional osteoblasts. Furthemore, doping with cobalt appears to mimic hypoxic conditions that have a key role in promoting angiogenesis. This characteristic could be exploited to meet the clinical requirement of producing vascularized units of bone tissue. In the current study, the human osteosarcoma cell line MG-63 was cultured on phosphate glass microspheres doped with 5% mol titanium dioxide and different concentrations of cobalt oxide (0%, 2% and 5% mol), under static and dynamic conditions (150 and 300 rpm on an orbital shaker). Cell proliferation and the formation of aggregates of cells and microspheres were observed over a period of two weeks in all glass compositions, thus confirming the biocompatibility of the substrate and the suitability of this system for the formation of compact micro-units of tissue. At the concentrations tested, cobalt was not found to be cytotoxic and did not alter cell metabolism. On the other hand, the dynamic environment played a key role, with moderate agitation having a positive effect on cell proliferation while higher agitation resulting in impaired cell growth. Finally, in static culture assays, the capacity of cobalt doping to induce vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) upregulation by osteoblastic cells was observed, but was not found to increase linearly with cobalt oxide content. In conclusion, Ti-Co phosphate glasses were found to support osteoblastic cell growth and aggregate formation that is a necessary precursor to tissue formation and the upregaulation of VEGF production can potentially support vascularization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-310
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biomaterials Applications
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Bone Substitutes/chemistry
  • Bone and Bones/cytology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cobalt/chemistry
  • Glass/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Oxides/chemistry
  • Phosphates/chemistry
  • Tissue Engineering/methods
  • Titanium/chemistry
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A/metabolism


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