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Tuning of Silver Content on the Antibacterial and Biological Properties of Poly(ɛ-caprolactone)/Biphasic Calcium Phosphate 3D-Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Engineering

There is a growing interest in tissue engineering, in which biomaterials play a pivotal role in promoting bone regeneration. Furthermore, smart functionalization can provide biomaterials with the additional role of preventing orthopedic infections. Due to the growing microbial resistance to antimicrobials used to treat those infections, metal ions, such as silver, thanks to their known wide range of bactericidal properties, are believed to be promising additives in developing antibacterial biomaterials. In this work, novel poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)-based 3D scaffolds have been designed and developed, where the polymer matrix was modified with both silver (Ag), to supply antibacterial behavior, and calcium phosphates (biphasic calcium phosphate, BCP) particles to impart bioactive/bioresorbable properties. The microstructural analysis showed that constructs were characterized by square-shaped macropores, in line with the morphology and size of the templating salts used as pore formers. Degradation tests demonstrated the important role of calcium phosphates in improving PCL hydrophilicity, leading to a higher degradation degree for BCP/PCL composites compared to the neat polymer after 18 days of soaking. The appearance of an inhibition halo around the silver-functionalized PCL scaffolds for assayed microorganisms and a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in both adherent and planktonic bacteria demonstrate the Ag+ release from the 3D constructs. Furthermore, the PCL scaffolds enriched with the lowest silver percentages did not hamper the viability and proliferation of Saos-2 cells. A synergic combination of antimicrobial, osteoproliferative and biodegradable features provided to 3D scaffolds the required potential for bone tissue engineering, beside anti-microbial properties for reduction in prosthetic joints infections.

Publication date: 31/08/2023

Author: Francesca Menotti

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym15173618

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.