This study examines the cytotoxicity of bone cement extract to osteoblasts and the potential detoxification and restoration of osteoblastic function by an antioxidant amino acid, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). The osteoblastic cells derived from rat femurs were cultured with extract from polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)-based bone cement. The calcein and ethidium homodimer staining of the cells after 24-h incubation showed that 23.0% of the cells were dead in the culture with bone cement extract, while the addition of 5 mM NAC into the culture reduced the percentage to 4.3%. Annexin V and propidium iodide-based flow cytometric analysis also revealed that the apoptotic cells present at 15.8% in the culture with bone cement extract was reduced to 2.4% in the culture cotreated with bone cement extract and NAC. Severely suppressed alkaline phosphatase activity and matrix mineralization in the culture with bone cement extract (reduced to 10% and 5%, respectively, compared with the control culture) were restored to a normal level when treated with 5 mM NAC. The bone cement extractinduced, downregulated expression of osteoblastic genes, such as alkaline phosphatase, collagen I, and osteocalcin, was also restored to the baseline level by cotreatment with NAC. The data indicated that the addition of NAC into acrylic bone cement extract remarkably ameliorated the cytotoxicity to osteoblasts and restored their phenotype and function to a biologically significant degree, suggesting the potential usefulness of NAC in developing more biocompatible acrylic bone cement.
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