Plasma-Sprayed Hydroxylapatite Coatings as Biocompatible Intermediaries Between Inorganic Implant Surfaces and Living Tissue

  • Robert B. Heimann
Peer Reviewed


The present contribution discusses critical aspects of the thermal alteration that HAp particles undergo when passing along the extremely hot plasma jet. This heat treatment leads to dehydroxylated phases such as oxyhydroxylapatite/oxyapatite as well as thermal decomposition products such as tri- and tetracalcium phosphates, and quenched phases in the form of amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP) of variable composition. The contribution also includes studying the influence bioinert TiO2 bond coats have on adhesion, crystallinity, and composition of HAp coatings. Moreover, the question is being addressed whether oxyapatite might exist as a (meta)stable phase or whether its occurrence is merely an ephemeral event. In addition, the article deals with the role that HAp coatings are playing during in vitro interaction with simulated body fluid (SBF) resembling the composition of extracellular fluid (ECF). The biological and biomechanical advantages of using HAp coatings for medical implants as well as salient aspects of their biomineralization and osseointegration will be discussed in some detail.


hydroxylapatite coatings NMR spectroscopy osseoconductivity osseoinductivity oxyapatite plasma spraying Raman spectroscopy 



Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)

Any of the phosphatases that are optimally active in alkaline medium; measure of bone cell growth and bone rebuilding. Apart from its role in normal bone mineralization, the other functions of ALP remain obscure


Operative formation or restoration of a joint

Alveolar ridge

Bony ridge or raised thickened border on each side of the upper or lower jaw that contains the sockets of the teeth


Surgical repair or recanalization of a blood vessel


Having an effect on a living organism


Compatibility with living tissue or a living system by not being toxic, injurious, or physiologically reactive and not causing immunological rejection

Bone growth factors

Bone growth factors include, among others, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), insulin-like growth factor-2 (IGF-2), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs)

Bone sialoproteins

They constitute the largest number of non-collagenous proteins (see below). They include serum albumin and some immunoglobulins. Their function is unknown


A mass of exudate and connective tissue that forms around a break in a bone and is converted into bone in healing


A linear polysaccharide composed of d-glucosamine and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine. It is produced by treating the chitin shells of shrimp and other crustaceans with sodium hydroxide


A cartilage cell

Chondroitin sulfate

A glycosaminoglycan (see below) found in cartilage, bone, blood vessels and connective tissues


The main structural family of protein in the extracellular matrix, making up from 25 to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen consists of amino acids wound together to form triple-helices to form elongated fibrils. Collagen I forms in combination with hydroxylapatite the substance of bone


The round prominence at the end of a bone, most often part of a joint that articulates with another bone

Connective tissue

One of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with epithelial tissue, muscle tissue, and nervous tissue

Cortical bone

The hard outer layer of bones is composed of cortical bone also called compact bone being much denser than cancellous bone. It forms the hard exterior (cortex) of bones. The cortical bone gives bone its smooth and solid appearance, and accounts for 80% of the total bone mass of an adult human skeleton


Any of a class of immunoregulatory proteins that are secreted by cells especially of the immune system. Cytokines may include chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines, and tumor necrosis factors but generally not hormones or growth factors


Endochondral ossification takes place from centers arising in cartilage and involves deposition of lime salts in the cartilage matrix followed by secondary absorption and replacement by true bony tissue

Extracellular fluid (ECF)

Body fluid outside the cells. The ECF has two components—plasma and lymph as a delivery system, and interstitial fluid for water and solute exchange with the cells

Extracellular matrix

A collection of extracellular molecules secreted by support cells that provides structural and biochemical support to the surrounding cells


Thigh bone. The head of the femur articulates with the acetabulum in the pelvic bone forming the hip joint, while the distal part of the femur (condyle) articulates with the tibia and kneecap forming the knee joint. By most measures the femur is the strongest and longest bone in the human body


Long unbranched polysaccharides consisting of a repeating disaccharide unit. Prominent glycosaminoglycans are heparin, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid

Harris hip score

Method to assess the results of hip surgery, intended to evaluate various hip disabilities and methods of treatment in an adult population

Haversian canal

A series of microscopic tubes in the outermost region of cortical bone that allow blood vessels and nerves to travel through them

Hyaluronic acid

An anionic, non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan (see above) distributed widely throughout connective, epithelial, and neural tissues. One of the chief components of the extracellular matrix, it contributes significantly to cell proliferation and migration

Matrix protein

Large molecules tightly bound to form extensive networks of insoluble fibers. These proteins are of two general types, structural and adhesive. The structural proteins, collagen and elastin, are the dominant matrix proteins. At least 10 different types of collagen are present in various tissues. The most common type is collagen I

Matrix vesicle

Hydroxylapatite-containing, membrane-enclosed vesicles secreted by osteoblasts, odontoblasts, and some chondrocytes. They are believed to serve as nucleation foci for the mineralization process in bone, dentin, and calcified cartilage

Mesenchymal precursor cells

Pluripotent stromal cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), and myocytes (muscle cells)

Neointimal hyperplasia

Proliferation and migration of vascular smooth muscle cells primarily in the tunica intima, resulting in the thickening of arterial walls and decreased arterial lumen space. Neointimal hyperplasia is the major cause of restenosis after percutaneous coronary interventions such as stenting or angioplasty

Non-collagenous proteins

Non‐collagenous components, include proteoglycans (see below) and several glycoproteins such as osteocalcin, osteonectin, and the SIBLING proteins such as osteopontin, bone sialoprotein, and others


A cell that is part of the outer surface of the dental pulp, and whose biological function is formation of dentin, the substance beneath the tooth enamel on the crown and the cementum on the root


The ability of a biomaterial to support the ingrowth of bone cells, blood capillaries, and perivascular tissue into the operation-induced gap between implant body and existing cortical bone bed


The ability to transform undifferentiated mesenchymal precursor stem cells into osseoprogenitor cells that precede endochondral ossification (see above)

Osseoprogenitor cells

Stem cells of bone that eventually form osteoblasts. Osseoprogenitor cells are derived from primitive mesenchymal cells. They form a population of stem cells that can differentiate into the more specialized bone-forming cells such as osteoblasts and osteocytes


Cells with a single nucleus that synthesize bone. Osteoblasts function in groups of connected cells. Individual cells cannot generate bone

Osteocalcin (OC)

Non-collagenous GLa (glutamic) protein synthesized by osteoblasts. It is often used as a marker for the bone formation process. Higher osteocalcin levels in serum are relatively well correlated with increases in bone mineral density (BMD). Hence, osteocalcin can be used as a preliminary biomarker on the effectiveness of a given drug on bone formation


An osteoblast that has become embedded within the bone matrix, occupying a bone lacuna, and sending, through the canaliculi, cytoplasmic processes that connect with other osteocytes in developing bone. The osteocyte is an important regulator of bone mass and a key endocrine regulator of phosphate metabolism


A group of organized osteoblasts together with the bone made by a unit of cells

Osteonectin (ON)

Non-collagenous phosphoprotein found in bone. It binds collagen I and hydroxylapatite and thus, plays a crucial role in bone mineralization

Osteopontin (OPN)

Osteopontin is a phosphorylated acidic glycoprotein that functions as an immune modulator, and affects wound healing. In contrast to its restricted distribution in normal tissue, OPN is strikingly upregulated at sites of inflammation and tissue remodeling


A phospholipid component of the cell membrane. It plays a key role in cell cycle signaling, specifically in relationship to apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death the biochemical events of which lead to characteristic morphological cell changes and death


Non-collagenous proteins with a small protein core and up to two chondroitin sulfate (see above) chains attached. Proteoglycans are a major component of the extracellular matrix (see above). Here, they form large complexes, both to other proteoglycans such as hyaluronic acid, and to fibrous matrix proteins such as collagen. The combination of proteoglycans and collagen form cartilage. Their role in bone mineralization is unclear


The recurrence of stenosis, a narrowing of a blood vessel that leads to restricted blood flow

Simulated body fluid (SBF)

A solution with an ionic concentration close to that of human blood plasma, kept under mild conditions of pH and identical physiological temperature. Immersion of biomaterials in SBF is a cofactor to determine bioactivity


Cancellous or trabecular bone typically found at the ends of long bones, near joints, and in the interior of vertebrae


The final product of the blood coagulation step in hemostasis. There are two components to a thrombus: aggregated platelets and red blood cells that form a plug with a mesh of cross-linked fibrin protein


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© ASM International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GörlitzGermany

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