Bone Joint J 2015;97-B:917–23.

Particle characterisation and cytokine expression in failed small-diameter metal-on-metal total hip arthroplasties

G. Singh, J. V. Nuechtern, H. Meyer, G. M. Fiedler, F. Awiszus, S. Junk-Jantsch, M. Bruegel, G. Pflueger, C. H. Lohmann

The peri-prosthetic tissue response to wear debris is complex and influenced by various factors including the size, area and number of particles. We hypothesised that the ‘biologically active area’ of all metal wear particles may predict the type of peri-prosthetic tissue response.


Peri-prosthetic tissue was sampled from 21 patients undergoing revision of a small diameter metal-on-metal (MoM) total hip arthroplasty (THA) for aseptic loosening. An enzymatic protocol was used for tissue digestion and scanning electron microscope was used to characterise particles. Equivalent circle diameters and particle areas were calculated. Histomorphometric analyses were performed on all tissue specimens. Aspirates of synovial fluid were collected for analysis of the cytokine profile analysis, and compared with a control group of patients undergoing primary THA (n = 11) and revision of a failed ceramic-on-polyethylene arthroplasty (n = 6).


The overall distribution of the size and area of the particles in both lymphocyte and non-lymphocyte-dominated responses were similar; however, the subgroup with lymphocyte-dominated peri-prosthetic tissue responses had a significantly larger total number of particles.


14 cytokines (interleukin (IL)-1ß, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13, IL-17, interferon (IFN)-γ, and IFN-gamma-inducible protein 10), chemokines (macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α and MIP-1ß), and growth factors (granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and platelet derived growth factor) were detected at significantly higher levels in patients with metal wear debris compared with the control group.


Significantly higher levels for IL-1ß, IL-5, IL-10 and GM-CSF were found in the subgroup of tissues from failed MoM THAs with a lymphocyte-dominated peri-prosthetic response compared with those without this response.


These results suggest that the ‘biologically active area’ predicts the type of peri-prosthetic tissue response. The cytokines IL-1ß, IL-5, IL-10, and GM-CSF are associated with lymphocyte-dominated tissue responses from failed small-diameter MoM THA.

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