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This study explored the regenerative osteogenic response in the distal femur of sheep using scaffolds having stiffness values within, and above and below, the range of trabecular bone apparent modulus. Scaffolds 3D-printed from stiff titanium and compliant polyamide were implanted into a cylindrical metaphyseal defect 15 × 15 mm. After six weeks, bone ingrowth varied between 7 and 21% of the scaffold pore volume and this was generally inversely proportional to scaffold stiffness. The individual reparative response considerably varied among the animals, which could be divided into weak and strong responders. Notably, bone regeneration specifically within the interior of the scaffold was inversely proportional to scaffold stiffness and was strain-driven in strongly-responding animals. Conversely, bone regeneration at the periphery of the defect was injury-driven and equal in all scaffolds and in all strongly- and weakly-responding animals. The observation of the strain-driven response in some, but not all, animals highlights that scaffold compliance is desirable for triggering host bone regeneration, but scaffold permanence is important for the load-bearing, structural role of the bone-replacing device. Indeed, scaffolds may benefit from being nonresorbable and mechanically reliable for those unforeseeable cases of weakly responding recipients.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





183 - 194


Bone regeneration, Ovine model, Scaffold, Stiffness, Strain, microCT, Animals, Bone Regeneration, Bone Substitutes, Female, Femur, Hardness, Nylons, Porosity, Printing, Three-Dimensional, Sheep, Tissue Scaffolds, Titanium