Synthetic hydrogel-amorphous calcium phosphate composites are promising candidates to substitute biologically sourced scaffolds for bone repair. While the hydrogel matrix serves as a template for stem cell colonisation, amorphous calcium phosphate s provide mechanical integrity with the potential to stimulate osteogenic differentiation. Here, we utilise composites of poly(ethylene glycol)-based hydrogels and differently stabilised amorphous calcium phosphate to investigate potential effects on attachment and osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells. We found that functionalisation with integrin binding motifs in the form of RGD tripeptide was necessary to allow adhesion of large numbers of cells in spread morphology. Slow dissolution of amorphous calcium phosphate mineral in the scaffolds over at least 21 days was observed, resulting in the release of calcium and zinc ions into the cell culture medium. While we qualitatively observed an increasingly mineralised extracellular matrix along with calcium deposition in the presence of amorphous calcium phosphate-loaded scaffolds, we did not observe significant changes in the expression of selected osteogenic markers.
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