Background. The use of formalin fixed bone tissue is often avoided because of its assumed influence on the mechanical properties of bone. Fixed bone tissue would minimise biological risks and eliminate preservation issues for long duration experimental tests. This study aimed to determine the short-and long-term effects of embalming, using a solution with 4% formalin concentration, on the mechanical properties of human cortical bone.Methods. Three-millimetre cylindrical specimens of human cortical bone were extracted from two femoral diaphyses and divided in four groups. The first group was used as control, the remaining three groups were left in the embalming solution for 48 h, 4 week, and 8 week, respectively. Compressive mechanical properties, hardness and ash density were assessed. The last was used to check the homogeneity among the four groups.Findings. No significant differences were found among the four groups in yield stress, ultimate stress and hardness. The specimens stored for 8 week in the embalming solution had significant lower Young's modulus (À24%), higher yield strain (+20%) and ultimate strain (+53%) compared to the other groups.Interpretation. On a short-term perspective, embalming did not affect the compressive mechanical properties, nor hardness of human cortical bone, whereas a long-term preservation (8 week) did significantly affect Young's modulus, yield strain and ultimate strain in compression. Preserving bone segments for up to 4 week in an embalming solution with low formalin concentration seems to be an interesting alternative when collecting and/or managing fresh or fresh-frozen bone segments for biomechanical experiments is not possible.
Low temperature self-setting ceramic inks have been scarcely investigated for solid freeform fabrication processes. This work deals with the robocasting of alpha-tricalcium phosphate/gelatine reactive slurries as a bioinspired self-setting ink for the production of biomimetic hydroxyapatite/gelatine scaffolds. A controlled and totally interconnected pore network of $300 mm was obtained after ink printing and setting, with the struts consisting of a micro/nanoporous matrix of needle-shaped calcium deficient hydroxyapatite crystals, with a high specific surface area. Gelatine was effectively retained by chemical crosslinking. The setting reaction of the ink resulted in a significant increase of both the elastic modulus and the compressive strength of the scaffolds, which were within the range of the human trabecular bone. In addition to delaying the onset of the setting reaction, thus providing enough time for printing, gelatine provided the viscoelastic properties to the strands to support their own weight, and additionally enhanced mesenchymal stem cell adhesion and proliferation on the surface of the scaffold. Altogether this new processing approach opens good perspectives for the design of hydroxyapatite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering with enhanced reactivity and resorption rate.
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