Zinc-containing tricalcium phosphate (ZnTCP) is biocompatible and bioactive, and functions as an effective zinc carrier. ZnTCP contains a maximum of 12 mol% of zinc. ZnTCP ceramics and composite ceramics of ZnTCP and hydroxyapatite (ZnTCP/HAP) with a (Ca+Zn)/P molar ratio of 1.60 were prepared by sintering at 1100 °C. ZnTCP/HAP continued to release zinc for more than 50 days in 0.9 wt.% sodium chloride solution. ZnTCP/HAP with a zinc content of 1.2 wt.% significantly increased osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cell proliferation and alkaline phosphatase activity of rat stromal cells in vitro. ZnTCP/HAP with a zinc content of 0.316 wt.% increased bone formation by 51% (n=6; p=0.0509) 4 weeks after implantation in rabbit compared to the control without zinc. A zinc concentration within a noncytotoxic level of a solution does not completely block the crystal growth of apatite in the solution. When ZnTCP is added to calcium phosphate cement, the ZnTCP showed neither inhibitory nor promoting effect on the setting ability of the cement. All these findings suggest that the zinc-containing tricalcium phosphate is a biomaterial that has a pharmaceutical effect of promoting bone formation.
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