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Biomatter. 2012 Oct-Dec;2(4):176-94. doi: 10.4161/biom.22905.

Infection of orthopedic implants with emphasis on bacterial adhesion process and techniques used in studying bacterial-material interactions.

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Instituto de Engenharia Biom├ędica, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.


Staphylococcus comprises up to two-thirds of all pathogens in orthopedic implant infections and they are the principal causative agents of two major types of infection affecting bone: septic arthritis and osteomyelitis, which involve the inflammatory destruction of joint and bone. Bacterial adhesion is the first and most important step in implant infection. It is a complex process influenced by environmental factors, bacterial properties, material surface properties and by the presence of serum or tissue proteins. Properties of the substrate, such as chemical composition of the material, surface charge, hydrophobicity, surface roughness and the presence of specific proteins at the surface, are all thought to be important in the initial cell attachment process. The biofilm mode of growth of infecting bacteria on an implant surface protects the organisms from the host immune system and antibiotic therapy. The research for novel therapeutic strategies is incited by the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This work will provide an overview of the mechanisms and factors involved in bacterial adhesion, the techniques that are currently being used studying bacterial-material interactions as well as provide insight into future directions in the field.


Orthopedic implants; Staphylococcus; bacteria-material interactions; bacterial adhesion; bone infections

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