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British Orthopaedic Research Society (BORS)


The aseptic loss of bone after hip replacement is a serious problem leading to implant instability. Hydroxyapatite coating of joint replacement components produces a bond with bone and helps to reduce loosening. However, over time bone remodeling at the implant interface leads to loss of hydroxyapatite. One possible solution would be to develop a coating that reduces hydroxyapatite and bone loss. Hydroxyapatite can be chemically modified through the substitution of ions to alter the biological response. Zinc is an essential trace element that has been found to inhibit osteoclast-like cell formation and decrease bone resorption. It was hoped that by substituting zinc into the hydroxyapatite lattice, the resultant zinc-substituted hydroxyapatite (ZnHA) would inhibit ceramic resorption and the resorption of bone. The aim of this work was to investigate the effect of ZnHA on the number and activity of osteoclasts.

Discs of phase pure hydroxyapatite (PPHA), 0.37wt% ZnHA and 0.58wt% ZnHA were produced, sintered at 1100 degrees Celsius and ground with 1200 grit silicon carbide paper. They were cultured in medium containing macrophage colony stimulating factor and receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) for 11 and 21 days. A control disc of PPHA cultured in medium containing no RANKL was also used. On the required dates the discs were removed and the cells stained for actin with phalloidin-TRITC and the cell nuclei with 4',6-Diamidino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride. Cells with 3 or more nuclei were classed as osteoclasts and counted using ImageJ. On day 21 after the cells had been counted, the cells were removed and the discs coated in platinum before viewing with a scanning electron microscope. Resorption areas were then measured using ImageJ.

The addition of zinc was observed to significantly decrease the number of differentiated osteoclasts after 21 days (p<0.005 for 0.58wt% ZnHA compared to PPHA and p<0.01 for 0.37wt% ZnHA compared to PPHA). The area of resorption was also significantly decreased with the addition of zinc (p<0.005 for the comparison of 0.58wt% ZnHA with PPHA)

The work found that zinc substituted hydroxyapatite reduced the number and subsequent activity of osteoclasts.