Localized mandibular infection affects remote in vivo bioreactor bone generation

Emma Watson, Brandon T. Smith, Mollie M. Smoak, Alexander M. Tatara, Sarita R. Shah, Hannah A. Pearce, Katie J. Hogan, Jonathan Shum, James C. Melville, Issa A. Hanna, Nagi Demian, Joseph C. Wenke, George N. Bennett, Jeroen J.J.P. van den Beucken, John A. Jansen, Mark E. Wong, Antonios G. Mikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mandibular reconstruction requires functional and aesthetic repair and is further complicated by contamination from oral and skin flora. Antibiotic-releasing porous space maintainers have been developed for the local release of vancomycin and to promote soft tissue attachment. In this study, mandibular defects in six sheep were inoculated with 106 colony forming units of Staphylococcus aureus; three sheep were implanted with unloaded porous space maintainers and three sheep were implanted with vancomycin-loaded space maintainers within the defect site. During the same surgery, 3D-printed in vivo bioreactors containing autograft or xenograft were implanted adjacent to rib periosteum. After 9 weeks, animals were euthanized, and tissues were analyzed. Antibiotic-loaded space maintainers were able to prevent dehiscence of soft tissue overlying the space maintainer, reduce local inflammatory cells, eliminate the persistence of pathogens, and prevent the increase in mandibular size compared to unloaded space maintainers in this sheep model. Animals with an untreated mandibular infection formed bony tissues with greater density and maturity within the distal bioreactors. Additionally, tissues grown in autograft-filled bioreactors had higher compressive moduli and higher maximum screw pull-out forces than xenograft-filled bioreactors. In summary, we demonstrated that antibiotic-releasing space maintainers are an innovative approach to preserve a robust soft tissue pocket while clearing infection, and that local infections can increase local and remote bone growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120185
StatePublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • In vivo bioreactors
  • Large animal model
  • Local antibiotic release
  • Mandibular repair
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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