Electrical potentials in mechanically loaded bone have been implicated as signals in the bone remodeling cycle. Recently, interest has grown in exploiting this phenomenon to develop electrically active ceramics for implantation in hard tissue which may induce improved biological responses. Both polarized hydroxyapatite (HA), whose surface charge is not dependent on loading, and piezoelectric ceramics, which produce electrical potentials under stress, have been studied in order to determine the possible benefits of using electrically active bioceramics as implant materials. The polarization of HA has a positive influence on interfacial responses to the ceramic. In vivo studies of polarized HA have shown polarized samples to induce improvements in bone ingrowth. The majority of piezoelectric ceramics proposed for implant use contain barium titanate (BaTiO3). In vivo and in vitro investigations have indicated that such ceramics are biocompatible and, under appropriate mechanical loading, induce improved bone formation around implants. The mechanism by which electrical activity influences biological responses is yet to be clearly defined, but is likely to result from preferential adsorption of proteins and ions onto the polarized surface. Further investigation is warranted into the use of electrically active ceramics as the indications are that they have benefits over existing implant materials.
Baxter, F. R., Bowen, C. R., Turner, I. G., & Dent, A. C. E. (2010). Electrically active bioceramics: a review of interfacial responses. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 38(6), 2079-2092. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-010-9977-6