Poly(ether ether ketone) (PEEK) has emerged as a candidate to replace metal implants because of its satisfactory mechanical properties, radiolucency, and lack of metal allergy. However, PEEK lacks osseointegration ability limiting its clinical applications. To overcome this problem, we prepared PEEK with a micro-rough surface using the sandblast method to modulate its osseointegration property; the sandblast method is simple, cost-effective, and is already applied to clinical metal implants. The surface roughness of the sandblasted PEEK was about 2.3 μm, whereas that of mirror-polished PEEK was 0.06 μm. Rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (RMSCs) showed higher proliferation, osteocalcin (OC) expression and bone-like nodule formation on micro-roughened PEEK compared with those cultured on mirror-polished PEEK, suggesting that micro-roughening facilitated RMSCs proliferation and differentiation. The micro-roughened surface slightly mitigated secretion of inflammatory C-C motif chemokine 2 (CCL-2) from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages, but not of tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Finally, to compare osseointegration, specimens were implanted in rat femur bone marrow cavities, and then the pull-out force was measured. The pull-out force of micro-roughened PEEK was about four times higher than that of the mirror-polished PEEK. These results showed that micro-roughening of PEEK using the sandblast method was able to improve osseointegration, partly through elevating proliferation and differentiation of RMSCs.
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