Toxicological assessment of additively manufactured methacrylates for medical devices in dentistry

Frank Alifui-Segbaya, Jasper Bowman, Alan R. White, Sony Varma, Graham J. Lieschke, Roy George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The paucity of information on the biological risks of photopolymers in additive manufacturing is a major challenge for the uptake of the technology in the construction of medical devices in dentistry. In this paper, the biocompatibility of methacrylates for denture bases, splints, retainers and surgical guides were evaluated using the innovative zebrafish embryo model, which is providing a high potential for toxicity profiling of photopolymers and has high genetic similarity to humans. Toxicological data obtained confirmed gradations of toxicity influenced by ethanol treatment, exposure scenarios and extraction vehicles. In direct exposure tests, juvenile fish exposed to non-treated methacrylates in ultrapure water showed accelerated toxicity endpoints compared to fish in transparent E3 medium. Similarly, toxic extracts induced mostly acute responses (embryonic mortality) in contrast to cumulative chronic (sublethal and teratogenic effects) in direct exposure. Methacrylates composed of >60% Ethoxylated bisphenol A dimethacrylate produced a relatively lower conversion rate in FTIR spectroscopy, but were safe in zebrafish bioassays after ethanol treatment. The study affirms that biocompatibility was influenced primarily by physico-chemical characteristics of the materials, which subsequently influenced their residual monomer content before and after immersion in ethanol. Given the precautionary implications of the study, we propose a 3-tiered approach i.e. using approved materials, apposite manufacturing parameters and post-processing techniques that together guarantee optimal results for medical devices. Statement of Significance: This study is timely and relevant since there is limited published literature that precisely describes the toxicological properties of additively manufactured methacrylates despite their increased popularity for medical devices. While it is generally accepted that the zebrafish excels as a model system for developmental toxicity, a further examination of its utility in this study using different protocols provides basis for its consideration and adoption at a crucial time when there is a lack of consensus regarding the most suited biological assessment methods for medical devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-77
Number of pages14
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2018


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Biocompatibility
  • Double bond conversion
  • FTIR spectroscopy
  • Methacrylates
  • Zebrafish embryo model

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