[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2017.
Bone undergoes constant turnover throughout life and has the capacity to regenerate
itself. However, the repair of critical size defects, caused by bone diseases such
as osteoporosis, can be more problematic. Therefore, there is a clinical need for
a bone graft substitute that can be used at sites of surgical intervention to enhance
bone regeneration. Poly(vinylphosphonic acid-co-acrylic acid) (PVPA-co-AA) has recently
been identified as a potential candidate for use in bone tissue scaffolds. It is hypothesised
that PVPA-co-AA can mimic the action of bisphosphonates Ă˘ a class of drugs used
in the treatment of osteoporosis Ă˘ by binding to calcium ions from bone mineral
surfaces. In this way, bisphosphonates can affect bone turnover by increasing the
activity of osteoblasts and reducing osteoclast activity. Although PVPA-co-AA has
been shown to improve bone formation, the mechanism of action has so far not been
fully elucidated. Therefore, this work aims to understand the effect of copolymer
composition on the properties of PVPA-co-AA, and thus to determine its effect on osteoblast
adhesion and proliferation.
PVPA-co-AA copolymers have been synthesised with a range of monomer feed ratios. It
was found that a VPA content of 30 mol % led to the greatest calcium binding affinity
of the copolymer and is thus expected to lead to enhanced bone formation and mineralisation
of the matrix produced by osteoblast cells. The release profile of PVPA-co-AA from
electrospun PCL scaffolds was investigated. It was shown that all of the PVPA-co-AA
was released into aqueous media within 8 h of immersion. It was also found that the
calcium chelation from osteogenic differentiation media significantly increased within
the first 8 h. Therefore, it was concluded that PVPA-co-AA is released from the scaffolds,
where it can then bind to calcium ions from the bone mineral surface to promote mineralisation,
thus acting as a mimic of non-collagenous proteins, which are present in the extracellular
matrix (ECM) of bone.
Hydrogels of PVPA-co-AA have been produced and the effect of monomer feed ratio (0-50
mol % VPA) on the properties of the gels was explored. It was found that an increase
in VPA content led to greater hydrogel swelling and increased porosities. Hydrogels
that contained 30 and 50 mol % VPA were shown to have similar morphologies to the
native ECM of bone. Rheological testing showed that hydrogels with higher VPA contents
were more flexible and could be deformed to a large extent without permanent deformation
of their structure. An increase in osteoblast adhesion and proliferation was observed
for hydrogels with 30 and 50 mol % VPA content as well as superior cell spreading.
Osteoblast cell metabolic activity also increased as a function of VPA content in
the hydrogels. This work indicates that hydrogels of PVPA-co-AA, with VPA contents
of 30 or 50 mol %, are ideal for use as bone tissue scaffolds. Furthermore, the mechanical
and cell adhesion properties of the gels can be tuned by altering the copolymer composition.
Finally, composite hydrogels of PVPA-co-AA and hydroxyapatite (HA) have been produced
and investigated for their ability to remove fluoride ions from groundwater. It was
found that the fluoride uptake ability of PVPA-HA hydrogels was significantly enhanced
when compared with HA powder alone. Furthermore, the fluoride uptake was dependent
on many factors, including pH, contact time and the presence of competing ions. It
was possible to regenerate the hydrogel to remove the fluoride ions, and thus it was
shown that the material can be used a number of times with only a slight reduction
in its fluoride uptake capacity.