Cell death induced by metal ions: Necrosis or apoptosis?

D. Granchi, E. Cenni, G. Ciapetti, L. Savarino, S. Stea, S. Gamberini, A. Gori, A. Pizzoferrato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have evaluated if the cytotoxic effects of metals released from implants are due to necrosis or apoptosis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were exposed to different concentrations of chromium, nickel and cobalt extracts and the characteristics of both apoptosis and necrosis were evaluated by flow-cytometry at different culture endpoints. In order to define the prevalence of apoptosis or necrosis, the ratio cell death/apoptosis was calculated. A ratio of ≤ 1 means the prevalence of apoptotic events; a ratio > 1 indicates the acute toxicity of the tested substance (necrosis). The extracts of chromium, cobalt and nickel had a cytotoxic effect on the mononuclear cells; high concentrations of cobalt and nickel produced cell necrosis, whereas by lowering the extract concentration apoptotic phenomena were observed. High chromium concentrations can induce cell death by apoptosis. Our data suggest that when large amounts of nickel and cobalt are released from implanted metal devices, necrosis is produced and consequently a strong inflammatory tissue reaction is likely to occur. The release of either chromium or limited amounts of nickel and cobalt induces toxicity characterized by apoptotic phenomena, which allows an adaptation of the tissue to the implant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Bioengineering


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