Cobalt and chromium ions affect human osteoclast and human osteoblast physiology in vitro

Guilluame Mabilleau, Richie Gill, Afsie Sabokbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Cobalt-Chromium (Co-Cr) alloys are widely used in biomedicine owing to their resistance to corrosion, mechanical properties, and biocompatibility. Despite the increase in its use in orthopaedic surgery, a number of unique complications (elevated serum levels of Co and Cr ions, development of pseudotumour, neck narrowing, osteolysis and fracture) have been recently reported with Metal-on-Metal (MoM) bearings. The goal of the present study was to assess the effects of Co and Cr ions on human osteoblasts and human osteoclast biology.
Materials and methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) have been used as a source of osteoclast precursors whilst SaOS-2 cells have been used as osteoblasts. Both cell types have been cultured in the presence of Co2+ or Cr3+ ions.

Results: We have found that 100 μM Co2++ induced a significant increase in the number and the size of multinucleated tartrate resistant acid phosphatase positive osteoclasts as well as the number of nuclei per osteoclast. In contrast, 100 μM Cr3+ significantly decreased the number of newly-formed osteoclast but had no effect on the size or the number of nuclei per osteoclast. Interestingly, 100 μM of Co2+ was capable of strongly inhibiting bone resorption whereas 100 μM of Cr3+ had no significant effects on this parameter. The alkaline phosphatase activity was significantly increased by low concentrations of Co2+ and decreased by high concentrations of Cr3+ after 24 h and 48 h. Moreover, the degree of mineralization of a new bone matrix in vitro was significantly reduced when the SaOS-2 cells were exposed to high concentrations of Cr3+, but significantly increased when they were exposed to Co2+.

Discussion: These results suggest that long-term exposure to “chronic” levels of metal ions damages the functional behaviour of bone cells and subsequently may affect bone quality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number219
JournalOpen Access Scientific Reports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2012


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