Localization of metallic ions within gingival fibroblast subcellular fractions

Regina L.W. Messer, L. C. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Nickel-based alloys have been in use since the 1930s; however, there are concerns regarding the release of metal ions (Be+2, Cr+6, Cr+3, Ni+2, Mo+6) from these alloys into surrounding tissues. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the cellular location and accumulation of ions using atomic absorption spectroscopy and correlate location with the cytotoxic, morphologic, and ultrastructural evaluations reported previously. Human gingival fibroblasts were exposed to the metal ions for 72 h. Controlled atomic absorption spectroscopy studies were used to determine the intracellular location of these ions reported as parts per million metal ions per milligram protein. Enzymatic markers were shown to correspond to the appropriate fraction indicating success in fractionation of the gingival fibroblasts. These results correspond with the cytotoxic, morphologic, and ultrastructural alterations reported previously for fibroblasts exposed to these ions. The highest concentration of beryllium ions occurred in the low-density molecule fraction, where lipofuscin granules were found, which has been shown to contain metal ions. The highest concentrations of hexavalent chromium ions occurred in the plasma membrane and nuclear fractions followed by the mitochondria fraction, which is supported by the ions' ability to oxidize to trivalent chromium accumulating at the membrane as well as the alterations in nuclear and mitochondrial function. For trivalent chromium, the highest concentrations occurred in the low-density molecule and the plasma membrane fractions, which correlates with the ions' inability to readily cross membranes. The highest concentration of molybdenum ions occurred in the plasma membrane fraction correlating with alterations in membrane morphology and increased numbers of myelin figures. The highest concentration of nickel ions was associated with the cytosol fraction where lipid droplets seen in the transmission electron micrographs were located. The current study demonstrates that a successful subcellular fractionation was obtained on gingival fibroblasts and that the location of metallic ions within the fractions correlated with cellular alterations reported previously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-472
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 5 2002


  • Alloys
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Location
  • Metal
  • Subcellular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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