Hydroxyapatite crystals have been found in synovial fluids and periarticular spaces in association with osteoarthritis. This study examined the morphology of the interaction of macrophages and synovial cells with hydroxyapatite in order to determine the fate of hydroxyapatite over an extended culture period. Mouse peritoneal macrophages and bovine synovial cells were grown as monolayers. The morphology of the interaction between hydroxyapatite crystals (HAC) and these cells was studied by light microscopy, transmission and scanning electron microscopy for up to 14 days. Phagocytosis of HAC, phagosome formation, and concentration of crystal aggregates around the cells began within four minutes of their addition to the cultures. Phagocytosis and cellular aggregation continued after this time. HAC caused minimal cellular disruption despite the uptake of large amounts of crystalline material and significant cellular enlargement. HAC remained within cells for the duration of the study without any apparent dissolution by the cells. Whether macrophages are stimulated to produce interleukin I as a result of HAC uptake is currently under investigation.
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