Metal alloys used in dentistry and in other biomedical fields may release nickel ions in the oral environment. The release of nickel might influence the normal biological and physiological processes, including tissue wound healing, cell growth and proliferation. The aim of this study was to evaluate in vitro the effects of nickel ions on cell cycle, viability and proliferation.

Materials and Methods:

Human osteosarcoma cells (U2OS) and human keratinocytes (HaCat) were exposed to different nickel chloride (NiCl2) concentrations (0 - 5mM) for various periods exposure. The viability of cultured cells was estimated by flow cytometry using Annexin V-FITC and Propidium Iodide (PI). Cell proliferation was evaluated by using carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFDA-SE) and flow cytometry. Finally, the effects of NiCl2 on cell cycle were assessed and quantified by flow cytometry. Statistical analysis was performed by means of ANOVA followed by Tukey’s test.


NiCl2 induced a dose and time dependent decrease in cell viability. After 24h, 1mM NiCl2 caused a similar and significant reduction of viability in U2OS and HaCat cells, while higher NiCl2 concentrations and longer exposure times showed a reduced cytotoxic effect in HaCat as compared to U2OS cells.

Exposure to NiCl2 caused a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation in both cell lines tested, with a prominent effect on U2OS cells. Furthermore, both cell lines exposed to NiCl2 exhibited significant changes in cell cycle distribution after 24h exposure 2mM NiCl2, as compared to untreated cells (p<0.05).


Our results indicate that release of nickel ions may affect cell proliferation. The inhibition of cell growth by NiCl2 is mediated by both cell cycle arrest and by induction of cell death.

Keywords: Nickel, Orthodontic appliances, Biocompatibility, NiCl2, U2OS, HaCat.
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