All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Susan L Bellis

Advisory Committee Members

Marcas M Bamman

Stuart J Frank

Shawn R Gilbert

Jack E Lemons

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Heersink School of Medicine


Although bone has a dramatic capacity for regeneration, certain injuries and procedures present defects that are unable to heal properly, requiring surgical intervention to induce and support osteoregeneration. Our research group has hypothesized that the development of a biodegradable material that mimics the natural composition and architecture of bone extracellular matrix has the potential to provide therapeutic benefit to these patients. Utilizing a process known as electrospinning, our lab has developed a bone-mimetic matrix (BMM) consisting of composite nanofibers of the mechanically sta-ble polymer polycaprolactone (PCL), and the natural bone matrix molecules type-I colla-gen and hydroxyapatite nanocrystals (HA). We herein show that BMMs supported great-er adhesion, proliferation, and integrin activation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), the multipotent bone-progenitor cells within bone marrow and the periosteum, in comparison to electrospun PCL alone. These cellular responses, which are essential early steps in the process of bone regeneration, highlight the benefits of presenting cells with natural bone molecules. Subsequently, evaluation of new bone formation in a rat cortical tibia defect showed that BMMs are highly osteoconductive. However, these studies also revealed the inability of endogenous cells to migrate within electrospun matrices due to the inherently small pore sizes. To address this limitation, which will negatively impact the rate of scaf-fold-to-bone turnover and inhibit vascularization, sacrificial fibers were added to the ma-trix. The removal of these fibers after fabrication resulted in BMMs with larger pores, leading to increased infiltration of MSCs and endogenous bone cells. Lastly, we evaluat-ed the potential of our matrices to stimulate the recruitment of MSCs, a vital step in bone healing, through the sustained delivery of platelet derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB). BMMs were found to adsorb and subsequently release greater quantities of PDGF-BB, compared to PCL scaffolds, over an 8-week interval. The released PDGF-BB retained its bioactivity, stimulating MSC chemotaxis in two separate assays. Collectively, these re-sults suggest that electrospun matrices incorporating the bone matrix molecules collagen I and HA, with sacrificial fibers, provide a favorable scaffold for MSC survival and infil-tration as well as the ability to sequester PDGF-BB from solution, leading to sustained local delivery and MSC chemotaxis.