, Volume 472, Issue 2, pp 584-589
Date: 04 Dec 2013

Elevation of Serum Tumor Necrosis Factor α in Patients with Periprosthetic Osteolysis: A Case-Control Study

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Periprosthetic osteolysis is the leading reason for THA revision. The relationship of serum biomarkers with severe radiographic periprosthetic osteolysis has not been defined but may be important to direct future research and clinical therapeutics.


We determined whether there was an association between measurable inflammatory markers (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [hsCRP]) or inflammatory mediators (tumor necrosis factor α [TNF-α], IL-1β, IL-6, receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand [RANKL], and osteoprotegerin [OPG]) and periprosthetic osteolysis.


We identified 15 patients with THAs scheduled for revision surgery because of severe periprosthetic osteolysis. For each study patient, a nonosteolytic, pain-free control patient with THAs was identified and matched for age, sex, time since initial THA, acetabular and femoral component prosthesis material, and prosthesis wear within 1.0 mm/year using a manual wear analysis technique. Overall, the study and control patients had a mean wear rate of 0.25 mm/year since index THA. There were no differences in baseline characteristics between study and control patients in age, sex, BMI, Charlson Comorbidity Index, time since initial THA, UCLA activity score, and acetabular and femoral component type. Serum hsCRP, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, RANKL, and OPG were measured by ELISA in duplicate assays. Differences in values were assessed using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test.


Median TNF-α levels were higher in study patients than in controls (7.1 pg/mL [SD, 11.6 pg/mL] versus 1.5 pg/mL [SD, 1.3 pg/mL]) (p < 0.01). Median IL-6 levels tended to be higher in study patients than in controls (8.9 pg/mL [SD, 13.2 pg/mL] versus 3.5 pg/mL [SD, 0.7 pg/mL]) (p = 0.09). The other serum inflammatory proteins and mediators of bone turnover were not different between groups.


TNF-α is elevated in patients with osteolysis compared to matched controls. The role of TNF-α and its potential as a target of nonsurgical therapy to prevent osteolysis warrant further investigation in larger, prospective studies.

Level of Evidence

Level III, diagnostic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

The institution of one or more of the authors (RKC, LAM) has received, during the study period, funding from the American College of Rheumatology (Atlanta, GA, USA), The Arthritis Foundation (Atlanta, GA, USA), and the NIH (Bethesda, MD, USA). One of the authors (RKC) has received funding, during the study period, from the American College of Rheumatology (Physician-Scientist Development Award). One of the authors (LAM) has received funding, during the study period, from the NIH/NIAMS (Grant K23AR050607) and The Arthritis Foundation (Investigator Award).
All ICMJE Conflict of Interest Forms for authors and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research editors and board members are on file with the publication and can be viewed on request.
Each author certifies that his or her institution approved the human protocol for this investigation, that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research, and that informed consent for participation in the study was obtained.
This work was performed at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY, USA.