Worldwide, over 20 million patients suffer from bone disorders annually. Bone scaffolds are designed to integrate into host tissue without causing adverse reactions. Recently, chitosan, an easily available natural polymer, has been considered a suitable scaffold for bone tissue growth as it is a biocompatible, biodegradable, and non-toxic material with antimicrobial activity and osteoinductive capacity. In this work, chitosan was covalently and selectively biofunctionalized with two suitably designed bioactive synthetic peptides: a Vitronectin sequence (HVP) and a BMP-2 peptide (GBMP1a). Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) investigations highlighted the presence of the peptides grafted to chitosan (named Chit-HVP and Chit-GBMP1a). Chit-HVP and Chit-GBMP1a porous scaffolds promoted human osteoblasts adhesion, proliferation, calcium deposition, and gene expression of three crucial osteoblast proteins. In particular, Chit-HVP highly promoted adhesion and proliferation of osteoblasts, while Chit-GBMP1a guided cell differentiation towards osteoblastic phenotype.
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