Strontium Functionalization of Biomaterials for Bone Tissue Engineering Purposes: A Biological Point of View
Strontium (Sr) is a trace element taken with nutrition and found in bone in close connection to native hydroxyapatite. Sr is involved in a dual mechanism of coupling the stimulation of bone formation with the inhibition of bone resorption, as reported in the literature. Interest in studying Sr has increased in the last decades due to the development of strontium ranelate (SrRan), an orally active agent acting as an anti-osteoporosis drug. However, the use of SrRan was subjected to some limitations starting from 2014 due to its negative side effects on the cardiac safety of patients. In this scenario, an interesting perspective for the administration of Sr is the introduction of Sr ions in biomaterials for bone tissue engineering (BTE) applications. This strategy has attracted attention thanks to its positive effects on bone formation, alongside the reduction of osteoclast activity, proven by in vitro and in vivo studies. The purpose of this review is to go through the classes of biomaterials most commonly used in BTE and functionalized with Sr, i.e., calcium phosphate ceramics, bioactive glasses, metal-based materials, and polymers. The works discussed in this review were selected as representative for each type of the above-mentioned categories, and the biological evaluation in vitro and/or in vivo was the main criterion for selection. The encouraging results collected from the in vitro and in vivo biological evaluations are outlined to highlight the potential applications of materials&rsquo; functionalization with Sr as an osteopromoting dopant in BTE.