Bone fillers have emerged as an alternative to the invasive surgery often required to repair skeletal defects. Achieving controlled release from these materials is desired for accelerating healing. Here, oppositely-charged Poly (d,l-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles were used to create a cohesive colloidal gel as an injectable drug-loaded filler to promote healing in bone defects. The colloid self-assembled through electrostatic forces resulting in a stable 3-D network that may be extruded or molded to the desired shape. The colloidal gel demonstrated shear-thinning behavior due to the disruption of interparticle interactions as the applied shear force was increased. Once the external force was removed, the cohesive property of the colloidal gel was recovered. Similar reversibility and shear-thinning behavior were also observed in colloidal gels loaded with dexamethasone. Near zero-order dexamethasone release was observed over two months when the drug was encapsulated in PLGA nanoparticles and simply blending the drug with the colloidal gel showed similar kinetics for one month. Surgical placement was facilitated by the pseudoplastic material properties and in vivo observations demonstrated that the PLGA colloidal gels stimulated osteoconductive bone formation in rat cranial bone defects. © 2010.
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