Thursday, September 1, 2011

Effect of chromium and cobalt ions on primary human lymphocytes in vitro

I found this article of interest  published earlier this year.  What is of interest?

1.  leaching of metals from the hip implants may have adverse effects on the immune system.

2.  The immune system protects the body from infection.  An immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells

3.  Certain exposure levels to this metal provides significantly decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis in both resting and activated lymphocytes. 

4. Apoptosis (play /ˌæpəˈtsɪs/)[1][2] is the process of programmed cell death (PCD) that may occur in multicellular organisms.[3] Biochemical events lead to characteristic cell changes (morphology) and death.

5.  Excessive apoptosis causes atrophy, whereas an insufficient amount results in uncontrolled cell proliferation, such as cancer.
J Immunotoxicol. 2011 Jun;8(2):140-9. Epub 2011 Mar 29. 


Bioengineering Unit, University of Strathclyde, Wolfson Centre, Glasgow G4 0NW, UK.


Cobalt-chromium (Co-Cr) alloy metal-on-metal hip resurfacing is increasingly common among younger more active patients suffering from osteoarthritis. Recent reports have increased awareness of metal ions leaching from metallic articulations; this ion exposure may have adverse effects on the immune system. As previous studies reported alterations in lymphocyte number and function in patients with Co-Cr implants, we investigated effects of clinically relevant concentrations of Cr(6+) and Co(2+) on primary human lymphocytes in vitro. Here, both resting and activated (anti-CD3 ± anti-CD28 antibodies) primary human lymphocytes were exposed to Cr(6+) or Co(2+) (0.1-100 µM). Following 24 or 48 h of exposure, cell viability, proliferation, cytokine [interferon-γ (IFNγ and interleukin-2 (IL-2)] release, and apoptosis (with and without pre-treatment of cells with a caspase-3 inhibitor) were assessed. Exposure to 10 and 100 µM Cr(6+) significantly decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis in both resting and activated lymphocytes. Cell proliferation and cytokine release were also significantly reduced in activated lymphocytes following exposure. The exposure of resting lymphocytes to 100 µM Co(2+) resulted in significant decreases in cell viability accompanied by a significant increase in apoptosis. Activated lymphocytes also showed this response after exposure to 100 µM Co(2+); in fact, activated cells were significantly more sensitive to Co(2+) toxicity. Exposure to 10 µM Co(2+) led to significant decreases in cell proliferation and cytokine release, but no significant increase in apoptosis, in activated cells. The results indicate that exposure to high concentrations of metal ions initiate apoptosis that results in decreased lymphocyte proliferation. IL-2 release is inhibited by both metal ions at concentrations that are not overtly toxic. However, metal ion concentrations not directly cytotoxic to lymphocytes may affect events at a molecular level, thereby impeding lymphocyte proliferation. Hence, this may contribute to altered immune system function in patients with Co-Cr implants.

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