A composite material consisting of carbonate apatite (CAp) and type I atelocollagen (AtCol) (88/12 in wt/wt%) was designed for use as an artificial bone substitute. CAp was synthesized at 58 degrees C by a solution-precipitation method and then heated at either 980 degrees C or 1,200 degrees C. In this study, type I AtCol was purified from bovine tail skins. A CAp-AtCol mixture was prepared by centirfugation and condensed into composite rods or disks. The scanning electron-microscopic (SEM) characterization indicated that the CAp synthesized at 58 degrees C displayed a crystallinity similar to that of natural bone and had a high porosity (mean pore size: about 3-10 microns in diameter). SEM also revealed that the CAp heated at 980 degrees C was more porous than that sintered at 1,200 degrees C, and the 1,200 degrees C-heated particles were more uniformly encapsulated by the AtCol fibers than the 980 degrees C-heated ones. A Fourier transformed-infrared spectroscopic analysis showed that the bands characteristic of carbonate ions were clearly observed in the 58 degrees C-synthesized CAp. To enhance the intramolecular cross-linking between the collagen molecules, CAp-AtCol composites were irradiated by ultraviolet (UV) ray (wave length 254 nm) for 4 hours or vacuum-dried at 150 degrees C for 2 hours. Compared to the non cross-linked composites, the UV-irradiated or dehydrothermally cross-linked composites showed significantly (p < 0.05) low collagen degradation and swelling ratio. Preliminary mechanical data demonstrated that the compressive strengths of the CAp-AtCol composites were higher than the values reported for bone.
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