Silicified collagen scaffold induces semaphorin 3A secretion by sensory nerves to improve in-situ bone regeneration

Yu Xuan Ma, Kai Jiao, Qian Qian Wan, Jing Li, Ming Yi Liu, Zi Bin Zhang, Wen Qin, Kai Yan Wang, Ya zhou Wang, Franklin R. Tay, Li Na Niu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Sensory nerves promote osteogenesis through the release of neuropeptides. However, the potential application and mechanism in which sensory nerves promote healing of bone defects in the presence of biomaterials remain elusive. The present study identified that new bone formation was more abundantly produced after implantation of silicified collagen scaffolds into defects created in the distal femur of rats. The wound sites were accompanied by extensive nerve innervation and angiogenesis. Sensory nerve dysfunction by capsaicin injection resulted in significant inhibition of silicon-induced osteogenesis in the aforementioned rodent model. Application of extracellular silicon in vitro induced axon outgrowth and increased expression of semaphorin 3 A (Sema3A) and semaphorin 4D (Sema4D) in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG), as detected by the upregulation of signaling molecules. Culture medium derived from silicon-stimulated DRG cells promoted proliferation and differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells. These effects were inhibited by the use of Sema3A neutralizing antibodies but not by Sema4D neutralizing antibodies. Knockdown of Sema3A in DRG blocked silicon-induced osteogenesis and angiogenesis almost completely in a femoral defect rat model, whereas overexpression of Sema3A promoted the silicon-induced phenomena. Activation of “mechanistic target of rapamycin” (mTOR) pathway and increase of Sema3A production were identified in the DRG of rats that were implanted with silicified collagen scaffolds. These findings support the role of silicon in inducing Sema3A production by sensory nerves, which, in turn, stimulates osteogenesis and angiogenesis. Taken together, silicon has therapeutic potential in orthopedic rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-490
Number of pages16
JournalBioactive Materials
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Distal femur defect
  • Mechanistic target of rapamycin
  • Semaphorin 3A
  • Sensory nerve
  • Silicified collagen scaffolds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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