The authors investigated the ultrastructural cytochemical features of multinucleated and mononuclear cells in periprosthetic tissues associated with bone resorption (osteolysis) and those in tissues adjoining failed artificial ligaments having no relation to bone resorption. Clinical specimens of granulation tissue of each type, respectively numbering 4 and 3, were stained for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) reactions and examined by light and electron microscopy. Both periprosthetic granulation tissues and those adjoining artificial ligaments contained TRAP-positive multinucleated and mononuclear cells. Near joint prostheses, multinucleated cells, including some giant cells, showed TRAP activity and cytoplasmic features resembling osteoclasts, while others had features consistent with foreign-body giant cells, and still others showed degenerative changes. Near artificial ligaments, TRAP-positive multinucleated cells lacked osteoclastic features. At both sites, TRAP-positive multinucleated cells had phagocytised wear particles. TRAP-positive mononuclear cells at both sites also showed phagocytic cytoplasmic features, but not osteoclastic cytoplasmic features. Human mononuclear phagocytes and multinucleated giant cells induced by wear particles possess TRAP activity. Those multinucleated giant cells at sites of osteolysis developed osteoclastic cytoplasmic features and have a phagocytic function.
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