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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2010 Feb;92(2):667-82. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.32368.

In vitro reactivity to implant metals demonstrates a person-dependent association with both T-cell and B-cell activation.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA. nhallab@rush.edu


Hypersensitivity to metallic implants remains relatively unpredictable and poorly understood. We initially hypothesized that metal-induced lymphocyte proliferation responses to soluble metal challenge (ions) are mediated exclusively by early T-cell activation (not B-cells), typical of a delayed-type-hypersensitivity response. We tested this by comparing proliferation (6 days) of primary lymphocytes with early T-cell and B-cell activation (48 h) in three groups of subjects likely to demonstrate elevated metal reactivity: group 1 (n = 12) history of metal sensitivity with no implant; group 2a (n = 6) well performing metal-on-metal THRs, and group 2b (n = 20) subjects with poorly performing metal-on-polymer total joint arthroplasties (TJA). Group 1 showed 100% (12/12) metal reactivity (stimulation index > 2) to Ni. Groups 2a and 2b were 83% (5/6) and 75% (15/22) metal reactive (to Co, Cr, or Ni), respectively. Of the n = 32 metal-reactive subjects to Co, Cr, or Ni (SI > 2), n = 22/32 demonstrated >2-fold elevations in % of T-cell or B-cell activation (CD25+, CD69+) to metal challenge when compared with untreated control. 18/22 metal-activated subjects demonstrated an exclusively T-cell or B-cell activation response to metal challenge, where 6/18 demonstrated exclusively B-cell activation and 12/18 demonstrated a T-cell only response, as measured by surface activation markers CD25+ and CD69+. However, there was no direct correlation (R(2) < 0.1) between lymphocyte proliferation and % T-cell or B-cell activation (CD25+:CD69+). Proliferation assays (LTT) showed greater ability to detect metal reactivity than did subject-dependent results of flow-cytometry analysis of T-cell or B-cell activation. The high incidence of lymphocyte reactivity and activation indicate that more complex than initially hypothesized immune responses may contribute to the etiology of debris-induced osteolysis in metal-sensitive individuals.

(c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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