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The biocompatibility of dense and porous Nickel-Titanium produced by selective laser melting
Nickel–Titanium shape memory alloys (NiTi-SMA) are of biomedical interest due to their unusual range of pure elastic deformability and their elastic modulus, which is closer to that of bone than any other metallic or ceramic material. Newly developed porous NiTi, produced by Selective Laser Melting (SLM), is currently under investigation as a potential carrier material for human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC). SLM enables the production of highly complex and tailor-made implants for patients on the basis of CT data. Such implants could be used for the reconstruction of the skull, face, or pelvis. hMSC are a promising cell type for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering due to their ability to support the regeneration of critical size bone defects. Loading porous SLM-NiTi implants with autologous hMSC may enhance bone growth and healing for critical bone defects. The purpose of this study was to assess whether porous SLM-NiTi is a suitable carrier for hMSC. Specimens of varying porosity and surface structure were fabricated via SLM. hMSC were cultured for 8 days on NiTi specimens, and cell viability was analyzed using two-color fluorescence staining. Viable cells were detected on all specimens after 8 days of cell culture. Cell morphology and surface topography were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Cell morphology and surface topology were dependent on the orientation of the specimens during SLM production. The Nickel ion release can be reduced significantly by aligned laser processing conditions. The presented results clearly attest that both dense SLM-NiTi and porous SLM-NiTi are suitable carriers for hMSC. Nevertheless, before carrying out in vivo studies, some work on optimization of the manufacturing process and post-processing is required.