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Acta Biomaterialia
Vol. 11, 2015, Pages: 554–562

Effect of the addition of low rare earth elements (lanthanum, neodymium, cerium) on the biodegradation and biocompatibility of magnesium

Elmar Willbold, Xuenan Gu, Devon Albert, Katharina Kalla, Katharina Bobe, Maria Brauneis, Carla Janning, Jens Nellesen, Wolfgang Czayka, Wolfgang Tillmann, Yufeng Zheng

Laboratory for Biomechanics and Biomaterials, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hannover Medical School, Anna-von-Borries-Straße 1-7, 30625 Hannover, Germany.


Rare earth elements are promising alloying element candidates for magnesium alloys used as biodegradable devices in biomedical applications. Rare earth elements have significant effects on the high temperature strength as well as the creep resistance of alloys and they improve magnesium corrosion resistance. We focused on lanthanum, neodymium and cerium to produce magnesium alloys with commonly used rare earth element concentrations. We showed that low concentrations of rare earth elements do not promote bone growth inside a 750 μm broad area around the implant. However, increased bone growth was observed at a greater distance from the degrading alloys. Clinically and histologically, the alloys and their corrosion products caused no systematic or local cytotoxicological effects. Using microtomography and in vitro experiments, we could show that the magnesium–rare earth element alloys showed low corrosion rates, both in in vitro and in vivo. The lanthanum- and cerium-containing alloys degraded at comparable rates, whereas the neodymium-containing alloy showed the lowest corrosion rates.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Magnesium alloy; Rare earth elements; Biocompatibility; Biodegradable implants; In vitro.

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