Tissue responses to natural aragonite (Margaritifera shell) implants in vivo

Biomaterials. 2000 Mar;21(5):457-68. doi: 10.1016/s0142-9612(99)00184-2.


The purpose of this study was to access tissue reactions to the outer prismatic (prism) and the inner nacreous (nacre) layers of the fresh water Margaritifera shell. The materials, in granule form, were implanted into the back muscles and femurs of rats for 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 weeks. In the back muscles, a foreign body reaction was observed around the implants, starting from one week after implantation and reaching maximal proportions at two weeks. After four weeks, a thin layer of fibrous tissue encapsulated the implanted particles. The external surface of the material stained strongly with acid fuchsin, indicating degradation of implant. At femoral sites, newly formed bone was directly applied to the implant surfaces. The outer-most parts of the organic sheets in prisms were not degraded until 16 weeks after implantation and were embedded in the newly formed bone. The interface between bone and the implants showed close fusion by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDAX) demonstrated a phosphorous-rich zone in the interface between bone and the implants, and no electron-dense layer in the interface was found by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We conclude that Margaritifera shells are biocompatible, biodegradable and osteoconductive materials. Bonding between this natural aragonite and bone seems to occur via a phosphorous-rich intermediate layer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bivalvia*
  • Bone Substitutes / chemistry*
  • Bone Substitutes / pharmacology*
  • Bone and Bones / cytology
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / ultrastructure
  • Calcium Carbonate / chemistry*
  • Calcium Carbonate / pharmacology*
  • Electron Probe Microanalysis
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Bone Substitutes
  • Calcium Carbonate