THE MORPHOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN titanium and lysosomal proteinases, cathepsins B and D, at the bone-titanium interface using titanium-coated plastic implants placed for 28 days in the tibiae of 6-week-old rats was immunocytochemically investigated by the colloidal immunogold-silver method. Under light microscopy the titanium layer appeared to make direct contact with the bone and one or a few layers of slender cells were interposed between the bone and titanium. Ultrastructurally, the titanium came in contact with the bone or the slender cell layer through a 20 to 40 nm thin amorphous zone. The slender cells at the bone-titanium interface consisted of two types; one was an osteoblast type with glycogen granules which was found along the newly-formed bone facing titanium layer. The other was a fibroblast type which came in contact with the titanium layer and occasionally endocytosed the detached titanium fragments. In addition, some of the slender cells also showed degenerative changes. Immunocytochemically, cathepsins B and/or D were sometimes colocalized in some phagolysosomes with titanium fragments. These findings suggested that the fibroblast types at the bone-titanium interface may act as scavengers to remove both cell debris and titanium by means of some endocytotic ability, and lysosomal cathepsins also developed in response to the endocytosed titanium. The osteoblast type also appears to show a high degree of osteogenic activity around the titanium-coated plastic implants.
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