Peri-prosthetic osteolysis remains as the main long-term complication of total joint replacement surgery. Research over four decades has established implant wear as the main culprit for chronic inflammation in the peri-implant tissues and macrophages as the key cells mediating the host reaction to implant-derived wear particles. Wear debris activated macrophages secrete inflammatory mediators that stimulate bone resorbing osteoclasts; thus bone loss in the peri-implant tissues is increased. However, the balance of bone turnover is not only dictated by osteoclast-mediated bone resorption but also by the formation of new bone by osteoblasts; under physiological conditions these two processes are tightly coupled. Increasing interest has been placed on the effects of wear debris on the cells of the bone-forming lineage. These cells are derived primarily from multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) residing in bone marrow and the walls of the microvasculature. Accumulating evidence indicates that wear debris significantly impairs MSC-to-osteoblast differentiation and subsequent bone formation. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the effects of biomaterial implant wear debris on MSCs. Emerging treatment options to improve initial implant integration and treat developing osteolytic lesions by utilizing or targeting MSCs are also discussed.
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