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Biomaterials. 2012 Jan;33(2):365-77. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.09.084. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

The use of quaternised chitosan-loaded PMMA to inhibit biofilm formation and downregulate the virulence-associated gene expression of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus.

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Shanghai Key Laboratory of Orthopaedic Implant, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine, China.


Biomaterial-associated infections remain a serious complication in orthopaedic surgery. Treatments, including the local use of antibiotic-loaded polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) bone cement, are not always successful because of multiantibiotic-resistant organisms. In this study, we synthesised a new quaternised chitosan derivative (hydroxypropyltrimethyl ammonium chloride chitosan, HACC) that contains a series of substitutions of quaternary ammonium and demonstrated that HACC with a 26% degree of substitution (DS; referred to as 26%HACC) had a strong antibacterial activity and simultaneously good biocompatibility with osteogenic cells. We loaded 26%HACC at 20% by weight into PMMA bone cement to investigate whether HACC in PMMA prevents bacterial biofilm formation on the surface of bone cements. Chitosan-loaded PMMA (at the same weight ratio), gentamicin-loaded PMMA and PMMA with no antibiotic were also investigated and compared. Two clinical isolates, Staphylococcus epidermidis 389 and methicillin-resistant S. epidermidis (MRSE287), and two standard strains, S. epidermidis (ATCC35984) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC43300), were selected to evaluate the bacterial biofilm formation at 6, 12 and 24 h using the spread plate method, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The results showed that 26%HACC-loaded PMMA inhibited biofilm formation on its surface, while the PMMA control and chitosan-loaded PMMA were unable to inhibit biofilm formation. The gentamicin-loaded PMMA decreased the number of viable methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus strains, but its ability to inhibit biofilm formation was lower than 26%HACC-loaded PMMA. Real-time PCR demonstrated that 26%HACC-loaded PMMA markedly downregulated the expression of icaAD, which encodes essential enzymes for polysaccharide intercellular adhesion (PIA) biosynthesis, upregulated the expression level of icaR, which negatively mediates icaAD expression, and also downregulated the expression of MecA, which encodes membrane-bound enzymes known to be penicillin-binding proteins. Our study indicates that 26%HACC-loaded PMMA prevents biofilm formation of Staphylococcus, including antibiotic-resistant strains, on the surface of bone cement, and downregulates the virulence-associated gene expression of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus, thus providing a promising new strategy for combating implant infections and osteomyelitis.

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