Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 944–951 | Cite as

Whitlockite Promotes Bone Healing in Rabbit Ilium Defect Model

  • Yuan-Zhe Jin
  • Guang-Bin Zheng
  • Hae Lin Jang
  • Kyung Mee Lee
  • Jae Hyup LeeEmail author
Original Article



Treatment of bone defects commonly employs bone substitutes, like hydroxyapatite (HAP) and β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) for promoting bone regeneration. However, both the phosphates have limitations with regards to biodegradability and mechanical strength; apparently, there exists a need for other novel phosphates material with an ability to promote optimal bone regeneration. Whitlockite (WH) is the second most abundant phosphate present in the human body and its superiority has only been proven in rat calvarial model. Therefore, in the present study, we have compared osteoconductivity of WH with hydroxyapatite (HAP) and β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) by employing human mesenchymal stem cells and a rabbit ilium defect model.


The effects of WH on proliferation, alkaline phosphatase activity, and expression of osteogenetic related genes in human mesenchymal stem cells were analyzed. The implants made of HAP, β-TCP or WH were inserted in rabbit ilium defect, and after 6 weeks, the bone formation in each group was analyzed with micro-CT.


The cells in the WH group exhibited higher proliferation level, ALP activity, and expression levels of osteoblastic related genes. In rabbit ilium defect model, the WH group had compatible percent bone volume compared to the other two groups. Additionally, the newly formed bone in the WH group had significantly thicker bone compared to other groups with a more directional form and migrated wider in the scaffold.


WH exhibited comparable osteoinductivity with HAP and β-TCP in rabbit ilium defect and is proposed as a better bone substitute material.


Bone substitute Phosphates Whitlockite Animal experiments Bone defect 



The work was supported by the Interdisciplinary Research Initiatives Program by College of Engineering and College of Medicine, Seoul National University (800-20150094).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declared no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Taiwanese Society of Biomedical Engineering 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopedic Surgery, College of MedicineSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of OrthopaedicsTaizhou Hospial of Zhejiang ProvinceLinhaiChina
  3. 3.Division of Engineering in Medicine, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical SchoolBrigham & Women’s HospitalCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Division of Health Sciences & Technology, Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  5. 5.Department of Orthopedic SurgerySMG-SNU Boramae Medical CenterSeoulSouth Korea
  6. 6.Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University Medical Research CenterSeoulSouth Korea

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