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Authors Agarwal A, Weis TL, Schurr MJ, Faith NG, Czuprynski CJ, McAnulty JF, Murphy CJ, Abbott NL
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Journal Biomaterials Volume: 31 Issue: 4 Pages: 680-90
Publish Date 2010 Feb
PubMed ID 19864019
PMC ID 4824047

Silver is widely used as a biocidal agent in ointments and wound dressings. However, it has also been associated with tissue toxicity and impaired healing. In vitro characterization has also revealed that typical loadings of silver employed in ointments and dressings (approximately 100 microg/cm(2)) lead to cytotoxicity. In this paper, we report the results of an initial study that sought to determine if localization of carefully controlled loadings of silver nanoparticles within molecularly thin films immobilized on surfaces can lead to antimicrobial activity without inducing cytotoxicity. Polymeric thin films of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) were prepared by layer-by-layer deposition and loaded with approximately 0.4 microg/cm(2) to approximately 23.6 microg/cm(2) of silver nanoparticles. Bacterial killing efficiencies of the silver-loaded films were investigated against Staphylococcus epidermidis, a gram-positive bacterium, and it was determined that as little as approximately 0.4 microg/cm(2) of silver in the polymeric films caused a reduction of 6log(10)CFU/mL (99.9999%) bacteria in suspensions incubated in contact with the films (water-borne assays). Significantly, whereas the antibacterial films containing high loadings of silver were found to be toxic to a murine fibroblast cell line (NIH-3T3), the polymeric films containing approximately 0.4 microg/cm(2) of silver were not toxic and allowed attachment, and growth of the mammalian cells. Thus, the results of this study go beyond prior reports by identifying silver-impregnated, polymeric thin films that are compatible with in vitro mammalian cell culture yet exhibit antibacterial activity. These results support the hypothesis that localization of carefully controlled loadings of silver nanoparticles within molecularly thin polymeric films can lead to antimicrobial activity without cytotoxicity. More broadly, this strategy of modifying surfaces with minimal loadings of bioactive molecules indicates the basis of approaches that may permit management of microbial burden in wound beds without impairment of wound healing.

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