Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Craig Friedrich

Committee Member 1

Paul Fortin

Committee Member 2

Gregory Odegard

Committee Member 3

Tolou Shokuhfar


Introduction: As joint arthroplasty surgical procedures increase annually, the development of new strategies, including novel materials and surface modifications, to attain solid bone-implant fixation are needed to increase implant terms of service. In this study, we evaluate two morphologies of titania nanotubes in both in vitro and in vivo experiments to quantify osseointegrative potential and material-level biocompatibility.

Materials and Methods: Samples were prepared via an electrochemical etching process. Two different titania nanotube (TiNT) morphologies were produced, Aligned and Trabecular. For the in vitro experiment, Sprague Dawley (SD) rat marrow-derived bone marrow cells (BMC) were seeded on samples. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, osteocalcin (OC) expression, expression of relevant genes as well as cell attachment and morphology were assessed. In the first in vivo experiment, Kirschner wires were implanted unilaterally into SD rat femora with a TiNT-etched or unmodified (Control) implant. General health assessments and weekly body weights were recorded. At a 12-week endpoint, hematologic, systemic metal ion, and histologic analyses were performed. For the second in vivo experiment, Kirschner wires were implanted bilaterally into SD rat femora, with a TiNT-etched implant in one femora and unmodified (Control) implant as an internal control. At 4- and 12-week endpoints, femora were assessed via biomechanics, undecalcified histology, micro-computed tomography (μCT), and backscattered electron imaging (BEI) to characterize de novo bone formation.

Results: In vitro experiments demonstrated BMC attachment and differentiation into osteoblasts as well as greater ALP activity, OC expression, total cell counts, and gene expression (of Col1a1, IGF-1, and osteonectin) on TiNT surfaces versus Controls. Cells on TiNT-etched substrates were smaller in diameter and more eccentric than Controls. In the first in vivo experiment, there were significant differences in body weight between groups at Weeks 9 and 11. There were no significant differences in red or white blood cell function between TiNT groups and Control. Aluminum levels in the lungs were significantly greater in the Trabecular TiNT group compared to Control. Histologic analysis showed significantly fewer granulocytes and neutrophils in the distal region of Trabecular TiNT-implanted femora as well as significantly fewer foreign body giant/multinucleated cells and neutrophils in the midshaft region of Aligned TiNT-implanted femora versus Controls. In the second in vivo experiment, at 12 weeks, µCT analysis showed TiNT implants generated greater bone formation than Controls. Histologic analysis demonstrated 1.5 times greater bone-implant contact in TiNT groups than Controls at 12 weeks. TiNT groups exhibited 1.3 to 3.7 times greater strength of fixation than Controls during pull-out testing.

Discussion and Conclusions: In vitro data confirmed BMC attachment and differentiation into osteoblasts as well as osteoblastic phenotypic behavior. A clinically-relevant in vivo model of femoral intramedullary fixation, showed increased bone formation and quality in femora implanted with TiNT-etched implants versus Controls. A second in vivo study showed that TiNT surfaces do not generate systemic effects and may beneficially modulate the periprosthetic inflammatory environment.

Included in

Biomaterials Commons