Current review-The rise of bacteriophage as a unique therapeutic platform in treating peri-prosthetic joint infections

J Orthop Res. 2018 Apr;36(4):1051-1060. doi: 10.1002/jor.23755. Epub 2017 Nov 22.


Peri-prosthetic joint infection (PJI) is one of the most serious and dreaded complications after total joint replacement (TJR). Due to an aging population and the constant rise in demand for TJR, the incidence of PJI is also increasing. Successful treatment of PJI is challenging and is associated with high failure rates. One of the main causes for treatment failure is bacterial biofilm formation on implant surfaces and the adherence of biofilm bacteria on tissue and bone next to the implant. Biofilms are protective shields to bacterial cells and possess many unique properties that leads to antibiotic resistance. New therapeutic platforms are currently being explored to breakdown biofilm matrix in order to enhance the efficacy of antibiotics. Bacteriophages (phages) is one of these unique therapeutic platforms that can degrade biofilms as well as target the killing of bacterial cells. Preclinical studies of biofilm-mediated infections have demonstrated the ability of phage to eradicate biofilms and clear infections by working synergistically with antibiotics. There is strong preclinical evidence that phage can reduce the concentration of antibiotics required to treat an infection. These findings support a promising role for phages as a future clinical adjunct to antibiotics. In addition, phage therapy can be personalized to target a specific bacterial strain. Clinical studies using phage therapy are limited in Western literature; but phase I studies have established good safety profile with no adverse outcomes reported. In order to translate phage therapy to treat PJI in clinics, further preclinical testing is still required to study optimal delivery methods as well as the interaction between phage and the immune system in vivo. © 2017 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 36:1051-1060, 2018.

Keywords: antibiotic resistance; bacteriophage; biofilm; peri-prosthetic joint infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Infectious / microbiology
  • Arthritis, Infectious / therapy*
  • Bacteriophages*
  • Biofilms*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / therapy*