Hypersensitivity to titanium: clinical and laboratory evidence.

OBJECTIVES: This study was carried out to investigate the potential of titanium to induce hypersensitivity in patients chronically exposed to titanium-based dental or endoprosthetic implants.

METHODS: Fifty-six patients who had developed clinical symptoms after receiving titanium-based implants were tested in the optimized lymphocyte transformation test MELISA against 10 metals including titanium. Out of 56 patients, 54 were patch-tested with titanium as well as with other metals. The implants were removed in 54 patients (2 declined explantation), and 15 patients were retested in MELISA.

RESULTS: Of the 56 patients tested in MELISA, 21 (37.5%) were positive, 16 (28.6%) ambiguous, and 19 (33.9%) negative to titanium. In the latter group, 11 (57.9%) showed lymphocyte reactivity to other metals, including nickel. All 54 patch-tested patients were negative to titanium. Following removal of the implants, all 54 patients showed remarkable clinical improvement. In the 15 retested patients, this clinical improvement correlated with normalization in MELISA reactivity.

CONCLUSION: These data clearly demonstrate that titanium can induce clinically-relevant hypersensitivity in a subgroup of patients chronically exposed via dental or endoprosthetic implants.

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