header advert
You currently have no access to view or download this content. Please log in with your institutional or personal account if you should have access to through either of these
The Bone & Joint Journal Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from The Bone & Joint Journal

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Get Access locked padlock


The immunobiology of cobalt

demonstration of a potential aetiology for inflammatory pseudotumours after metal-on-metal replacement of the hip

Download PDF


Abnormal wear of cobalt-containing metal-on-metal joints is associated with inflammatory pseudotumours. Cobalt ions activate human toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), which normally responds to bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in sepsis. Activation of TLR4 by LPS increases the expression of chemokines IL-8 and CXCL10, which recruit leukocytes and activated T-cells, respectively. This study was designed to determine whether cobalt induces a similar inflammatory response to LPS by promoting the expression of IL-8 and CXCL10. A human monocytic cell line, derived from acute monocytic leukaemia, was treated with cobalt ions and expression of IL-8 and CXCL10 measured at mRNA and protein levels. Cobalt-treated macrophages showed a 60-fold increase in IL-8 mRNA, and an eightfold increase in production of the mature chemokine (both p < 0.001); expression of the CXCL10 gene and protein was also significantly increased by cobalt (both p < 0.001). Experiments were also performed in the presence of CLI-095, a TLR4-specific antagonist which abrogated the cobalt-mediated increase in IL-8 and CXCL10 expression.

These findings suggest that cobalt ions induce inflammation similar to that observed during sepsis by the simultaneous activation of two TLR4-mediated signalling pathways. These pathways result in increased production of IL-8 and CXCL10, and may be implicated in pseudotumour formation following metal-on-metal replacement.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014; 96-B:1172–7.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr A Tyson-Capper; e-mail:

For access options please click here