Osteolysis: basic science

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2001 Dec:(393):71-7. doi: 10.1097/00003086-200112000-00008.


Since the recognition of aseptic loosening by Charnley in the early 1960s, much information has been gained on the basic science of periprosthetic bone loss. Initially termed cement disease, it now generally is accepted that, in most instances, osteolysis is a manifestation of an adverse cellular response to phagocytosable particulate wear and corrosion debris, possibly facilitated by local hydrodynamic effects. Tissue explant, animal, and cell culture studies have allowed us to compile an appreciation of the complexity of cellular interactions and chemical mediators involved in osteolysis. Cellular participants have been shown to include the macrophage, osteoblast, fibroblast, and osteoclast. The plethora of chemical mediators that are responsible for the cellular responses and effects on bone include prostaglandin E2, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1, and interleukin 6. However, an increasing number of other proinflammatory and antiinflammatory cytokines, prostenoids, and enzymes have been shown to play important roles in this process. The ultimate goal of basic research is to develop novel strategies for evaluation and treatment of patients with osteolysis. Although initial animal studies are promising for possible pharmacologic treatment and prevention of osteolysis, well-controlled human trials are required before agents such as bisphosphonates can be recommended for general clinical use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Osteolysis / immunology
  • Osteolysis / physiopathology*
  • Particle Size


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators