Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2021 Mar 13. doi: 10.1007/s13346-021-00946-1. Online ahead of print.
Poor integration of orthopaedic devices with the host tissue owing to aseptic loosening and device-associated infections are two of the leading causes of implant failure, which represents a significant problem for both patients and the healthcare system. Novel strategies have focused on silver to combat antimicrobial infections as an alternative to drug therapeutics. In this study, we investigated the impact of increasing the % substitution (12% wt) of silver and strontium in hydroxyapatite (HA) coatings to enhance antimicrobial properties and stimulate osteoblasts, respectively. Additionally, we prepared a binary substituted coating containing both silver and strontium (AgSrA) at 12% wt as a comparison. All coatings were deposited using a novel blasting process, CoBlast, onto biomedical grade titanium (V). Surface physicochemical properties, cytocompatibility and antimicrobial functionality were determined. The anticolonising properties of the coatings were screened using Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 1448, and thereafter, the AgA coating was evaluated using clinically relevant strains. Strontium-doped surfaces demonstrated enhanced osteoblast viability; however, a lower inhibition of biofilm formation was observed compared with the other surfaces. A co-substituted AgSrA surface did not show enhanced osteoblast or anticolonising properties compared with the SrA and AgA surfaces, respectively. Due to its superior anticolonising performance in preliminary studies, AgA was chosen for further studies. The AgA coated surfaces demonstrated good antibacterial activity (eluted and immobilised ion) against methicillin-resistant S. aureus followed by methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus clinical isolates; however, the AgA surface displayed poor impact against Staphylococcus epidermidis. In conclusion, herein, we demonstrate that HA can be substituted with a range of ions to augment the properties of HA coatings on orthopaedic devices, which offer promising potential to combat orthopaedic device-associated infections and enhance device performance.