Ceramic prosthesis surfaces induce an inflammatory cell response and fibrotic tissue changes

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Early evidence has emerged suggesting that ceramic-on-ceramic articulations induce a different tissue reaction to ceramic-on-polyethylene and metal-on-metal bearings. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the tissue reaction and cellular response to ceramic total hip arthroplasty (THA) materialsin vitro, as well as the tissue reaction in capsular tissue after revision surgery of ceramic-on-ceramic THAs.

Patients and Methods

We investigated tissue collected at revision surgery from nine ceramic-on-ceramic articulations. we compared our findings with tissue obtained from five metal-on-metal THA revisions, four ceramic-on-polyethylene THAs, and four primary osteoarthritis synovial membranes. The latter were analyzed to assess the amount of tissue fibrosis that might have been present at the time of implantation to enable evaluation, in relation to implantation time, of any subsequent response in the tissues.


There was a significant increase in tissue fibrosis with implantation time for all implant types tested. Interestingly, the tissue fibrosis in ceramic-on-ceramic THAs was significantly increased compared with metal-on-metal and ceramic-on-polyethylene. Additionally, we found ceramic wear particles in the periprosthetic tissue of ceramic implants. Fibroblasts responded with expression of cytokines when cultured on alumina-toughened zirconia (ATZ) and zirconia-toughened alumina (ZTA) ceramic surfaces. This response was more pronounced on ATZ ceramics compared with ZTA ceramics. The same inflammatory response was observed with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) cultured on ZTA and ATZ.


Our findings therefore, corroborate the previous findings that ceramic-on-ceramic periprosthetic revision tissue is fibrous and offer an explanation for this observation. We detected a long-term inflammatory response of PBMCs and an inflammatory response of fibroblasts to ATZ and ZTA ceramic. These findings partially explain the fibrotic tissue change in periprosthetic tissue of ceramic-on-ceramic bearings.

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