Surgical site infection is a common cause of post-operative morbidity, often leading to implant loosening, ultimately requiring revision surgery, increased costs and worse surgical outcomes. Since implant failure starts at the implant surface, creating and controlling the bio-material interface will play a critical role in reducing infection while improving host cell-to-implant interaction. Here, we engineered a biomimetic interface based upon a chimeric peptide that incorporates a titanium binding peptide (TiBP) with an antimicrobial peptide (AMP) into a single molecule to direct binding to the implant surface and deliver an antimicrobial activity against S. mutans and S. epidermidis, two bacteria which are linked with clinical implant infections. To optimize antimicrobial activity, we investigated the design of the spacer domain separating the two functional domains of the chimeric peptide. Lengthening and changing the amino acid composition of the spacer resulted in an improvement of minimum inhibitory concentration by a three-fold against S. mutans. Surfaces coated with the chimeric peptide reduced dramatically the number of bacteria, with up to a nine-fold reduction for S. mutans and a 48-fold reduction for S. epidermidis. Ab initio predictions of antimicrobial activity based on structural features were confirmed. Host cell attachment and viability at the biomimetic interface were also improved compared to the untreated implant surface. Biomimetic interfaces formed with this chimeric peptide offer interminable potential by coupling antimicrobial and improved host cell responses to implantable titanium materials, and this peptide based approach can be extended to various biomaterials surfaces.
Keywords: Infections; antimicrobial peptides; bio-nanomaterial; biocoating; implants; interface; peptide design; structural analysis.