A series of nanocomposite scaffolds comprised of dextran (Dex) and sol–gel derived bioactive glass ceramic nanoparticles (nBGC: 0–16 (wt%)) were fabricated as bioactive scaffolds for bone tissue engineering. Scanning electron microscopy showed Dex/nBGC scaffolds were consisting of a porous 3D microstructure with an average pore size of 240 μm. Energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy illustrated nBGC nanoparticles were homogenously distributed within the Dex matrix at low nBGC content (2 wt%), while agglomeration was observed at higher nBGC contents. It was found that the osmotic pressure and nBGC agglomeration at higher nBGC contents leads to increased water uptake, then reduction of the compressive modulus. Bioactivity of Dex/nBGC scaffolds was validated through apatite formation after submersion in the simulated body fluid. Dex/nBGC composite scaffolds were found to show improved human osteoblasts (HOBs) proliferation and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity with increasing nBGC content up to 16 (wt%) over two weeks. Owing to favorable physicochemical and bioactivity properties, the Dex/nBGC composite hydrogels can be offered as promising bioactive scaffolds for bone tissue engineering applications.
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