Aseptic loosening of orthopaedic implants is induced by wear particles generated from the polymeric and metallic components of the implants. Substantial evidence suggests that activation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) may contribute to the biological activity of the wear particles. Although pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) produced by Gram-positive bacteria are likely to be more common in patients with aseptic loosening, prior studies have focused on LPS, a TLR4-specificPAMP produced by Gram-negative bacteria. Here we show that both TLR2 and TLR4 contribute to the biological activity of titanium particles with adherent bacterial debris. In addition, lipoteichoic acid, a PAMP produced by Gram-positive bacteria that activates TLR2, can, like LPS, adhere to the particles and increase their biological activity, and the increased biological activity requires the presence of the cognate TLR. Moreover, three lines of evidence support the conclusion that TLR activation requires bacterially derived PAMPs and that endogenously produced alarmins are not sufficient. First, neither TLR2 nor TLR4 contribute to the activity of "endotoxin-free" particles as would be expected if alarmins are sufficient to activate the TLRs. Second, noncognate TLRs do not contribute to the activity of particles with adherent LPS or lipoteichoic acid as would be expected if alarmins are sufficient to activate the TLRs. Third, polymyxin B, which inactivates LPS, blocks the activity of particles with adherent LPS. These results support the hypothesis that PAMPs produced by low levels of bacterial colonization may contribute to aseptic loosening of orthopaedic implants.
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