Benefits and drawbacks of zinc in glass ionomer bone cements.

06:00 EDT 18th June 2011 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Benefits and drawbacks of zinc in glass ionomer bone cements."

Glass polyalkenoate (ionomer) cements (GPCs) based on poly(acrylic acid) and fluoro-alumino-silicate glasses are successfully used in a variety of orthopaedic and dental applications; however, they release small amounts of aluminium, which is a neurotoxin and inhibits bone mineralization in vivo. Therefore there has been significant interest in developing aluminium-free glasses containing zinc for forming GPCs because zinc can play a similar structural role in the glass, allowing for glass degradation and subsequent cement setting, and is reported to have beneficial effects on bone formation. We created zinc-containing GPCs and characterized their mechanical properties and biocompatibility. Zinc-containing cements showed adhesion to bone close to 1 MPa, which was significantly greater than that of zinc-free cements (<0.05 MPa) and other currently approved biological adhesives. However, zinc-containing cements produced significantly lower metabolic activity in mouse osteoblasts exposed to cell culture medium conditioned with the cements than controls. Results show that although low levels of zinc may be beneficial to cells, zinc concentrations of 400 µM Zn(2+) or more resulted in cell death. In summary, we demonstrate that while zinc-containing GPCs possess excellent mechanical properties, they fail basic biocompatibility tests, produce an acute cytotoxic response in vitro, which may preclude their use in vivo.


Unit of Dental Physical Sciences, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK.

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Biomedical materials (Bristol, England)
ISSN: 1748-605X
Pages: 045007


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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Fluoride-releasing restorative materials made by the sintering of metal (usually silver) particles to glass ionomer powder. Glass ionomers are fluoride-releasing cements that are not very durable. Sintering of the metal particles is a means of improving those physical properties that will make the glass ionomer cement more durable.

Composite materials composed of an ion-leachable glass embedded in a polymeric matrix. They differ from GLASS IONOMER CEMENTS in that partially silanized glass particles are used to provide a direct bond to the resin matrix and the matrix is primarily formed by a light-activated, radical polymerization reaction.

A polymer obtained by reacting polyacrylic acid with a special anion-leachable glass (alumino-silicate). The resulting cement is more durable and tougher than others in that the materials comprising the polymer backbone do not leach out.

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