The influence of Co-Cr and UHMWPE particles on infection persistence: an in vivo study in mice

J Orthop Res. 2012 Mar;30(3):341-7. doi: 10.1002/jor.21526. Epub 2011 Aug 22.


Wear of metal-on-metal (cobalt-chromium, Co-Cr particles) and metal-on-polyethylene (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, UHMWPE particles) bearing surfaces in hip prostheses is a major problem in orthopedics. This study aimed to compare the influence of Co-Cr and UHMWPE particles on the persistence of infection. Bioluminescent Staphylococcus aureus Xen36 were injected in air pouches prepared in subcutaneous tissue of immuno-competent BALB/c mice (control), as a model for the joint space, in the absence or presence of Co-Cr or UHMWPE particles. Bioluminescence was monitored longitudinally up to 21 days, corrected for absorption and reflection by the particles and expressed relative to the bioluminescence found in the presence of staphylococci only. After termination, air pouch fluid and air pouch membrane were cultured and histologically analyzed. Bioluminescence was initially lower in mice exposed to UHMWPE particles with staphylococci than in mice injected with staphylococci only, possibly because UHMWPE particles initially stimulated a higher macrophage presence in murine air pouch membranes. For mice exposed to Co-Cr particles with staphylococci, bioluminescence was observed to be higher in two out of six animals compared to the presence of staphylococci alone. In the majority of mice, infection risk in the absence or presence of Co-Cr and UHMWPE particles appeared similar, assuming that the longevity of an elevated bioluminescence is indicative of a higher infection risk. However, the presence of Co-Cr particles yielded a higher bioluminescence in two out of six mice, possibly because the macrophage degradative function was hampered by the presence of Co-Cr particles.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromium Alloys / adverse effects*
  • Joint Prosthesis / microbiology*
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Polyethylenes*
  • Staphylococcal Infections*


  • Chromium Alloys
  • Polyethylenes
  • ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene