Long-term surveillance of zinc implant in murine artery: Surprisingly steady biocorrosion rate

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Metallic zinc implanted into the abdominal aorta of rats out to 6 months has been demonstrated to degrade while avoiding responses commonly associated with the restenosis of vascular implants. However, major questions remain regarding whether a zinc implant would ultimately passivate through the production of stable corrosion products or via a cell mediated fibrous encapsulation process that prevents the diffusion of critical reactants and products at the metal surface. Here, we have conducted clinically relevant long term in vivo studies in order to characterize late stage zinc implant biocorrosion behavior and products to address these critical questions. We found that zinc wires implanted in the murine artery exhibit steady corrosion without local toxicity for up to at least 20 months post-implantation, despite a steady buildup of passivating corrosion products and intense fibrous encapsulation of the wire. Although fibrous encapsulation was not able to prevent continued implant corrosion, it may be related to the reduced chronic inflammation observed between 10 and 20 months post-implantation. X-ray elemental and infrared spectroscopy analyses confirmed zinc oxide, zinc carbonate, and zinc phosphate as the main components of corrosion products surrounding the Zn implant. These products coincide with stable phases concluded from Pourbaix diagrams of a physiological solution and in vitro electrochemical impedance tests. The results support earlier predictions that zinc stents could become successfully bio-integrated into the arterial environment and safely degrade within a time frame of approximately 1–2 years.

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© 2017 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2017.05.045

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Acta Biomaterialia