Sister chromatid exchanges and ion release in patients wearing fracture fixation devices

Lucia Savarino, Susanna Stea, Donatella Granchi, Manuela Visentin, Gabriela Ciapetti, M. Elena Donati, Giuseppe Rollo, Gianfranco Zinghi, Arturo Pizzoferrato, Lucio Montanaro, Aldo Toni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The quantification of sister chromatid exchange (SCE) during mitosis is a useful index for evaluating genotoxic effects in subjects occupationally or incidentally exposed to potentially toxic substances. The authors investigated the hypothesis that ions released by corrosion from prosthetic components of fracture fixation devices are associated with change in SCE incidence. In the present study, ten patients with implants were examined, and fifteen subjects with no implants were used as controls. SCE and high frequency cell (HFC) numbers were evaluated in circulating lymphocytes. In addition, nickel (Ni) and chromium (Cr) ion values in the serum were measured because, after iron, these metals are major components of stainless steel. A significant increase in SCE numbers was observed in patients compared to the control population (4.9 ± 1.3 vs. 3.5 ± 1.4). Ni concentration was 1.71 ± 1.49 ng/mL in patients and 0.72 ± 0.52 ng/mL in control subjects; Cr concentration was, respectively, 1.01 ± 0.77 ng/mL and 0.19 ± 0.27 ng/mL. The increase of serum Cr and Ni was statistically significant. No correlation was found between the increased Cr concentrations and SCE number while Cr ion levels were found to be significantly correlated to HFC. An inverse correlation between Ni level and SCE numbers was observed. Our findings suggest that Cr release by stainless steel implants could have a genotoxic effect; thus it would be useful to carefully monitor implanted subjects with regard to serum ion dosage, SCE analysts, and HFC evaluation. In any case, it would be appropriate to remove the implant when fracture fixation is reached.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Fracture fixation device
  • Genotoxicity
  • Metal ions
  • Sister chromatid exchange
  • Stainless steel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials

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