It has been realised very early that zirconium oxides can be used for bone implants. One selected study out of a huge series of experiments showed “an excellent compatibility with autogenous bone and the surrounding soft tissue”.


Zirconium dioxide has been investigated n many studies for its possible use in implants. Here we refer to one example which demonstrated “an excellent compatibility with autogenous bone and the surrounding soft tissue”[1]. The period of treatment was up to one year. To test for further effects another study investigated the biological effect of aluminium hydroxide or zirconium carbonate which has been injected into the skin. This study revealed that aluminium hydroxide induced the formation of granuloma within the skin, but ZrCO3 had none of such negative effects [2].


Another important investigation dealt with the interaction of nanoparticles with specific peptides and proteins and if such a binding can alter the behaviour of the proteins [3]. The reaction measured was the aggregation of small proteins within the nervous system which play a role in neurodegeneration diseases as Alzheimer or Parkinson disease. Zirconium dioxide exibits no interaction with peptides and proteins. Of course the experimental set-up was very artificial which means that these particles have not been shown to reach the brain in a living organism and induce exactly such a behaviour of the proteins but it may present a first insight into the possible reactions.

The experiments shown by the Chinese group didn’t reveal such a negative effect. As early as 1993 it was demonstrated that particles have been produced by abrasion from ceramic surfaces of non-fitting implants which are often nanosized [4]. This medical investigation found an influence on the surrounding tissue by these “ultrafine particles” and traced this back to the smallness of the particles and not to the material they consisted of. Slightly larger particles around 1 micrometre have been investigated for their influence on human stem cells. Concentrations as high as 500 to 5000 particles per cell had a slight effect on the viability of these cells [5]. Compared to particles made from other materials zirconium dioxide had always the less pronounced effects on stem cells even they had one.


Literature arrow down

  1. Hentrich, RL et al. (1971), J Biomed Mater Res, 5(1): 25-51.
  2. Turk, JL et al. (1977), J Invest Dermatol, 68(6): 336-340.
  3. Wu, WH et al. (2008), Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 373(2): 315-318.
  4. Ito, A et al. (1993), Clin Mater, 12(4): 203-209.
  5. Wang, ML et al. (2003), J Orthop Res, 21(4): 697-707.



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