Cell culture systems may be of value in testing the biocompatibility of prosthetic materials before they are introduced into clinical use. In recent years, in vitro methods for assaying biomaterials have gained in importance owing to the growing concern over the use of animals for biomaterials testing. Significant effort is therefore being focused toward developing predictive and quantitative, but also simple and reliable, methods of testing using cultured cells. At present, a number of methods for measuring both the cytotoxicity and the specific cytocompatibility of different materials are available. The usefulness of these systems is no longer confined to screening new materials; they can be used to study the mechanisms of action of various materials during tissue/material interaction. This paper reviews the published literature on the use of cell culture models in evaluating biocompatibility and reports on the personal experience of the authors, who have been using cell culture systems for many years and for different purposes.
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