Porous alumina, zirconia and alumina/zirconia for bone repair: Fabrication, mechanical and in vitro biological response

Chrystalleni Hadjicharalambous, Ales Buyakov, Svetlana Buyakova, Sergey Kulkov, Maria Chatzinikolaidou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Zirconia (ZrO2) and alumina (Al2O3) based ceramics are widely used for load-bearing applications in bone repair due to their excellent mechanical properties and biocompatibility. They are often regarded as bioinert since no direct bone-material interface is created unless a porous structure intercedes, leading to better bone bonding. In this regard, investigating interactions between cells and porous ceramics is of great interest. In the present study, we report on the successful fabrication of sintered alumina A-61, zirconia Z-50 and zirconia/alumina composite ZA-60 ceramics with medium porosities of 61, 50 and 60%, respectively, indicating a bimodal pore size distribution and good interconnectivity. They exhibit elastic moduli of 3 - 10 GPa and compressive strength values of 60 - 240 MPa, similar to those of human cortical bone. We performed in vitro cell - material investigations comparing the adhesion, proliferation and differentiation of mouse pre-osteoblasts MC3T3-E1 on the three porous materials. While all three ceramics demonstrate a strong cell attachment, better cell spreading is observed on zirconia-containing substrates. Significantly higher cell growth was quantified on the latter ceramics, revealing an increased alkaline phosphatase activity, higher collagen production and increased calcium biomineralization compared to A-61. Hence, these porous zirconia-containing ceramics elicit superior biological responses over porous alumina of similar porosity, promoting enhanced biological interaction, with potential use as non-degradable bone grafts or as implant coatings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025012
JournalBiomedical Materials (Bristol)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • alumina
  • cell adhesion
  • MC3T3-E1
  • mechanical properties
  • osteogenic differentiation
  • zirconia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

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