Antibacterial activity of bone allografts: comparison of a new vancomycin-tethered allograft with allograft loaded with adsorbed vancomycin

Bone. 2011 Mar 1;48(3):631-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2010.10.171. Epub 2010 Oct 28.


Bacterial contamination of bone allograft is a significant complication of orthopedic surgery. To address this issue, we have engineered a method for covalently modifying bone allograft tissue with the antibiotic vancomycin. The goal of this investigation was to compare the biocidal properties of this new allograft material with those of vancomycin physisorbed onto graft material. The duration of antibiotic release from the vancomycin-modified allograft matrix was determined, and no elution was observed. In contrast, the adsorbed antibiotic showed a peak elution at 24h that then decreased over several days. We next used an Staphylococcus aureus disk diffusion assay to measure the activity of the eluted vancomycin. Again we found that no active antibiotic was eluted from the covalently modified allograft. Similarly, when the vancomycin-modified allograft morsel was used in the assay, no measurable elution was observed; amounts of antibiotic released from the adsorbed samples inhibited S. aureus growth for 4-7 days. Probably the most telling property of the allograft was that after 2 weeks, the tethered allograft was able to resist bacterial colonization. Unlike the elution system in which vancomycin was depleted over the course of days-weeks, the antibiotic on the allograft was stably bound even after 300 days, while its biocidal activity remained undiminished for 60 days. This finding was in stark contrast to the antibiotic impregnated allograft, which was readily colonized by bacteria. Finally we chose to evaluate three indicators of cell function: expression of a key transcription factor, expression of selected transcripts, and assessment of cell morphology. Since the tethered antibiotic appeared to have little or no effect on any of these activities, it was concluded that the stable, tethered antibiotic prevented bacterial infection while not modifying bone cell function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption / drug effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Bone Transplantation*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Shape / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Drug Stability
  • Fetus / cytology
  • Fluorescence
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Time Factors
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Vancomycin / chemistry
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Vancomycin