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Vancomycin-Loaded 3D-Printed Polylactic Acid–Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Engineering

The regeneration of bone remains one of the main challenges in the biomedical field, with the need to provide more personalized and multifunctional solutions. The other persistent challenge is related to the local prevention of infections after implantation surgery. To fulfill the first one and provide customized scaffolds with complex geometries, 3D printing is being investigated, with polylactic acid (PLA) as the biomaterial mostly used, given its thermoplastic properties. The 3D printing of PLA in combination with hydroxyapatite (HA) is also under research, to mimic the native mechanical and biological properties, providing more functional scaffolds. Finally, to fulfill the second one, antibacterial drugs locally incorporated into biodegradable scaffolds are also under investigation. This work aims to develop vancomycin-loaded 3D-printed PLA–HA scaffolds offering a dual functionality: local prevention of infections and personalized biodegradable scaffolds with osseointegrative properties. For this, the antibacterial drug vancomycin was incorporated into 3D-printed PLA–HA scaffolds using three loading methodologies: (1) dip coating, (2) drop coating, and (3) direct incorporation in the 3D printing with PLA and HA. A systematic characterization was performed, including release kinetics, Staphylococcus aureus antibacterial/antibiofilm activities and cytocompatibility. The results demonstrated the feasibility of the vancomycin-loaded 3D-printed PLA–HA scaffolds as drug-releasing vehicles with significant antibacterial effects for the three methodologies. In relation to the drug release kinetics, the (1) dip- and (2) drop-coating methodologies achieved burst release (first 60 min) of around 80–90% of the loaded vancomycin, followed by a slower release of the remaining drug for up to 48 h, while the (3) 3D printing presented an extended release beyond 7 days as the polymer degraded. The cytocompatibility of the vancomycin-loaded scaffolds was also confirmed.

Publication date: 28/10/2023

Author: Sara Pérez-Davila

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym15214250

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.