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Biomaterials Laboratory

The Biomaterials Laboratory is housed in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center. As part of a program that is consistently ranked one of the nation's top orthopedics programs by U.S. News & World Report, the laboratory has access to world-class orthopedic care driven by high-quality research.

Our work

Laboratory work is focused on understanding (1) how implant debris is produced and what forms it takes and (2) how this debris interacts with the innate and adaptive immune systems. The long-term goal of this lab is to improve implant performance by minimizing the biologic impact of implant debris.

Specific areas of research include the following:

  • Immune reactivity to implant debris, from both an adaptive (T-cell) and innate (macrophage) perspective
  • Implant connections (modular junctions) and implant fretting corrosion, metal release and metal-protein complex formation
  • Peri-implant cell toxicity responses to implant degradation products such as metals
  • Study of how material surfaces can be used to control immune and cell function such as bone deposition

We are grateful to the National Institutes of Health for funding our scientific work.

The objective of this NIH-funded research is how the innate immune systems inflammasome pathway is central to debris-induced inflammation and osteolysis; and how targeting this pathway can extend implant longevity.


  • NIAMS/NIH Inflammasome Danger Signaling: A Novel Target to Prevent Debris Induced Osteolysis (A01-141-099)
  • Department of Defense: Fragment Related Undetected Systemic Toxicity and Immunogenicity (W91ZSQ0135N646)
  • The generous support of Mr Murray Goodman

Selected Publications

Hallab NJ. CORR Insights®: Do Patients With a Failed Metal-on-metal Hip Implant With a Pseudotumor Present Differences in Their Peripheral Blood Lymphocyte Subpopulations? Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2015 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26463565

Reddy A, Caicedo MS, Samelko L, Jacobs JJ, Hallab NJ. Implant debris particle size affects serum protein adsorption which may contribute to particle size-based bioreactivity differences. J Long Term Eff Med Implants. 2014;24(1):77-88.PMID:24941408

Caicedo MS, Solver E, Coleman L, Hallab NJ. Metal sensitivities among TJA patients with post-operative pain: indications for multi-metal LTT testing. J Long Term Eff Med Implants. 2014;24(1):37-44.PMID:24941404

Landgraeber S, Jäger M, Jacobs JJ, Hallab NJ. The pathology of orthopedic implant failure is mediated by innate immune system cytokines. Mediators Inflamm. 2014;2014:185150. doi: 10.1155/2014/185150. Epub 2014 May 7. Review.PMID:24891761

Yadav J, Samelko L, Gilvar P, McAllister K, Hallab NJ. Osteoclasts lose innate inflammatory reactivity to metal and polymer implant debris compared to monocytes/macrophages. Open Orthop J.18;7:605-13 2013.

Hallab NJ, Bao QB, Brown T. Assessment of epidural versus intradiscal biocompatibility of PEEK implant debris: an in vivo rabbit model. Eur Spine J. 22(12) 2740-51 2013

Samelko L, Caicedo MS, Lim SJ, Della-Valle C, Jacobs J, Hallab NJ.  Cobalt-alloy implant debris induce HIF-1α hypoxia associated responses: a mechanism for metal-specific orthopedic implant failure. PLoS One. 2013 Jun 20;8(6):e67127

Caicedo MS, Samelko L, McAllister K, Jacobs JJ, Hallab NJ.  Increasing both CoCrMo-alloy particle size and surface irregularity induces increased macrophage inflammasome activation in vitro potentially through lysosomal destabilization mechanisms. J Orthop Res. 2013 Oct;31(10):1633-42.

Levine BR, Hsu AR, Skipor AK, Hallab NJ, Paprosky WG, Galante JO, Jacobs JJ.  Ten-Year Outcome of Serum Metal Ion Levels After Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Concise Follow-up of a Previous Report. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 20;95(6):512-8, 2013.

Hallab NJ, Caicedo M, McAllister K, Skipor A, Amstutz H, Jacobs JJ. Asymptomatic prospective and retrospective cohorts with metal-on-metal hip arthroplasty indicate acquired lymphocyte reactivity varies with metal ion levels on a group basis. J Orthop Res. 2012 J Orthop Res. 2013 31(2):173-82.

Dalal A, Pawar V, McAllister K, Weaver C, Hallab NJ. Orthopedic implant cobalt-alloy particles produce greater toxicity and inflammatory cytokines than titanium alloy and zirconium alloy-based particles in vitro, in human osteoblasts, fibroblasts, and macrophages. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2012 Aug;100(8):2147-58.

Hallab NJ, McAllister K, Brady M, Jarman-Smith M. Macrophage reactivity to different polymers demonstrates particle size- and material-specific reactivity: PEEK-OPTIMA(®) particles versus UHMWPE particles in the submicron, micron, and 10 micron size ranges.J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2012 [Epub ahead of print]

Mishra PK, Wu W, Rozo C, Hallab NJ, Benevenia J, Gause WC. Micrometer-sized titanium particles can induce potent Th2-type responses through TLR4-independent pathways.J Immunol. 187(12):6491-8 2011.

Hallab NJ. A review of the biologic effects of spine implant debris: Fact from fiction. SAS Journal 4(3):143-160. 2010

Smith RA, Maghsoodpour A, Hallab NJ. In vivo response to cross-linked polyethylene and polycarbonate-urethane particles. J Biomed Mater Res A. Apr;93(1):227-34. 2010

Hallab NJ, Caicedo M, Epstein R, McAllister K, Jacobs JJ. In vitro reactivity to implant metals demonstrates a person-dependent association with both T-cell and B-cell activation. J Biomed Mater Res A. Feb;92(2):667-82. 2010

Caicedo MS, Pennekamp PH, McAllister K, Jacobs JJ, Hallab NJ. Soluble ions more than particulate cobalt-alloy implant debris induce monocyte costimulatory molecule expression and release of proinflammatory cytokines critical to metal-induced lymphocyte reactivity. J Biomed Mater Res A. 15;93(4):1312-21, 2010

Hallab NJ.  How Does Sterile, Nonbiologic Implant Debris Cause Inflammation?J Am Acad Orthop Surg;  17(10):658-663. 2009

Hallab NJ, Jacobs JJ. Biologic effects of implant debris. Bull NYU Hosp Jt Dis. 67(2):182-8. 2009
Lee GH, Kumar A, Berkson E, Verma N, Bach BR Jr, Hallab N. A biomechanical analysis of bone-patellar tendon-bone grafts after repeat freeze-thaw cycles in a cyclic loading model. J Knee Surg. 2009 Apr;22(2):111-3.

Caicedo MS, Desai R, McAllister K,  Reddy A, Jacobs JJ, Hallab N.J., Soluble and particulate Co-Cr-Mo alloy implant metals activate the inflammasome danger signaling pathway in human macrophages: A novel mechanism for implant debris reactivity, J Orthop Res. 2009 Jul;27(7):847-54.

Hallab N. J., Caicedo M. , Finnegan A. , and  Jacobs J. J.. Th1 type lymphocyte reactivity to metals in patients with total hip arthroplasty. J.Orthop.Surg. 3:6, 2008.

Caicedo M, Jacobs JJ, Reddy A, Hallab NJ. Analysis of metal ion-induced DNA damage, apoptosis, and necrosis in human (Jurkat) T-cells demonstrates Ni(2+) and V(3+) are more toxic than other metals: Al(3+), Be(2+), Co(2+), Cr(3+), Cu(2+), Fe(3+), Mo(5+), Nb(5+), Zr(2+) Biomed Mater Res A. 86(4):905-13. 2008

Jacobs JJ, Hallab NJ.  Loosening and osteolysis associated with metal-on-metal bearings: A local effect of metal hypersensitivity? J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006 Jun;88(6):1171-2.

Pubmed links for our researchers:

Rush Orthopedic Journal

Our team

  • Nadim James Hallab, PhD, director
  • Kyron McAllister, BS, Laboratory Manager

Graduate students

  • Lauryn Samelko, Department of Immunology, Rush University