Healing of contaminated/infected bone defects is a significant clinical challenge. Prevalence of multi-antibiotic resistant organisms has renewed interest in the use of antiseptic silver as an effective, but less toxic antimicrobial with decreased potential for bacterial resistance. In this study, we demonstrated that metallic nanosilver particles (with a size of 20-40nm)-poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) composite grafts have strong antibacterial properties. In addition, nanosilver particles-PLGA composite grafts did not inhibit adherence, proliferation, alkaline phosphatase activity, or mineralization of ongrowth MC3T3-E1 pre-osteoblasts compared to PLGA controls. Furthermore, nanosilver particles did not affect the osteoinductivity of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2). Infected femoral defects implanted with BMP-2 coupled 2.0% nanosilver particles-PLGA composite grafts healed in 12 weeks without evidence of residual bacteria. In contrast, BMP-2 coupled PLGA control grafts failed to heal in the presence of continued bacterial colonies. Our results indicate that nanosilver of defined particle size is bactericidal without discernable in vitro and in vivo cytotoxicity or negative effects on BMP-2 osteoinductivity, making it an ideal antimicrobial for bone regeneration in infected wounds.
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