Biomimetic hydration lubrication with various polyelectrolyte layers on cross-linked polyethylene orthopedic bearing materials
Natural joints rely on fluid thin-film lubrication by the hydrated polyelectrolyte layer of cartilage. However, current artificial joints with polyethylene (PE) surfaces have considerably less efficient lubrication and thus much greater wear, leading to osteolysis and aseptic loosening. This is considered a common factor limiting prosthetic longevity in total hip arthroplasty (THA). However, such wear could be mitigated by surface modification to mimic the role of cartilage. Here we report the development of nanometer-scale hydrophilic layers with varying charge (nonionic, cationic, anionic, or zwitterionic) on cross-linked PE (CLPE) surfaces, which could fully mimic the hydrophilicity and lubricity of the natural joint surface. We present evidence to support two lubrication mechanisms: the primary mechanism is due to the high level of hydration in the grafted layer, where water molecules act as very efficient lubricants; and the secondary mechanism is repulsion of protein molecules and positively charged inorganic ions by the grafted polyelectrolyte layer. Thus, such nanometer-scaled hydrophilic polymers or polyelectrolyte layers on the CLPE surface of acetabular cup bearings could confer high durability to THA prosthetics.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 33, Issue 18, June 2012, Pages 4451–4459