Marc Bohner, Richard J. Miron

Abstract: Repairing large bone defects caused by severe trauma or tumor resection remains one of the major challenges in orthopedics and maxillofacial surgery. A promising therapeutic approach is the use of osteoinductive materials, i.e. materials able to drive mesenchymal stem cells into the osteogenic lineage. Even though the mechanism of this so-called intrinsic osteoinduction or material-induced heterotopic ossification has been studied for decades, the process behind it remains unknown, thus preventing any design of highly potent osteoinductive materials. We propose and demonstrate for the first time that intrinsic osteoinduction is the result of calcium and/or phosphate depletion, thus explaining why not only the material (surface) composition but also the material volume and architecture (e.g. porosity, pore size) play a decisive role in this process.