Abstract

There remains a critical need to develop new technologies and materials that can meet the demands of treating large bone defects. The advancement of 3-dimensional (3D) printing technologies has allowed the creation of personalized and customized bone grafts, with specific control in both macro- and micro-architecture, and desired mechanical properties. Nevertheless, the biomaterials used for the production of these bone grafts often possess poor biological properties. The incorporation of growth factors (GFs), which are the natural orchestrators of the physiological healing process, into 3D printed bone grafts, represents a promising strategy to achieve the bioactivity required to enhance bone regeneration. In this review, the possible strategies used to incorporate GFs to 3D printed constructs are presented with a specific focus on bone regeneration. In particular, the strengths and limitations of different methods, such as physical and chemical cross-linking, which are currently used to incorporate GFs to the engineered constructs are critically reviewed. Different strategies used to present one or more GFs to achieve simultaneous angiogenesis and vasculogenesis for enhanced bone regeneration are also covered in this review. In addition, the possibility of combining several manufacturing approaches to fabricate hybrid constructs, which better mimic the complexity of biological niches, is presented. Finally, the clinical relevance of these approaches and the future steps that should be taken are discussed.

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