Scaffolds were fabricated using a gas foaming/particulate leaching method as previously described (16, 31, 47). Microspheres composed of PLG (85:15; DLG 7E; Lakeshore Biomaterials, Birmingham, AL) were prepared using a double-emulsion process and lyophilized to form a free-flowing powder. Lyophilized microspheres (9.2 mg) were combined with 23.1 mg of HA crystals (particle size, 100 nm; Berkeley Advanced Biomaterials, Berkeley, CA) and 175.6 mg of NaCl (300 to 500 μm in diameter) to yield a 2.5:1:19 mass ratio of ceramic:polymer:salt. The powdered mixture was compressed under 2 metric tons for 1 min to form solid disks (final dimensions, 8 mm in diameter and 2 mm in height) using a Carver Press (Carver Inc., Wabash, IN). Compressed disks were exposed to high-pressure CO2 gas (5.5 MPa) for at least 16 hours, followed by rapid pressure release to prompt polymer fusion. Salt particles were leached from scaffolds in distilled H2O for 24 hours to generate HA-PLG composite scaffolds. Scaffolds were sterilized by 70% ethanol under gentle vacuum, followed by two rinses in sterile PBS.

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