Bone possesses an intrinsic regenerative capacity, which can be compromised by aging, disease, trauma, and iatrogenesis (e.g. tumor resection, pharmacological). At present, autografts and allografts are the principal biological treatments available to replace large bone segments, but both entail several limitations that reduce wider use and consistent success. The use of decellularized extracellular matrices (ECM), often derived from xenogeneic sources, has been shown to favorably influence the immune response to injury and promote site-appropriate tissue regeneration. Decellularized bone ECM (dbECM), utilized in several forms — whole organ, particles, hydrogels — has shown promise in both in vitro and in vivo animal studies to promote osteogenic differentiation of stem/progenitor cells and enhance bone regeneration. However, dbECM has yet to be investigated in clinical studies, which are needed to determine the relative efficacy of this emerging biomaterial as compared with established treatments. This mini-review highlights the recent exploration of dbECM as a biomaterial for skeletal tissue engineering and considers modifications on its future use to more consistently promote bone regeneration.

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