Sustained Release from Injectable Composite Gels Loaded with Silver Nanowires Designed to Combat Bacterial Resistance in Bone Regeneration Applications

Pharmaceutics. 2019 Mar 12;11(3):116. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics11030116.


One-dimensional nanostructures, such as silver nanowires (AgNWs), have attracted considerable attention owing to their outstanding electrical, thermal and antimicrobial properties. However, their application in the prevention of infections linked to bone tissue regeneration intervention has not yet been explored. Here we report on the development of an innovative scaffold prepared from chitosan, composite hydroxyapatite and AgNWs (CS-HACS-AgNWs) having both bioactive and antibacterial properties. In vitro results highlighted the antibacterial potential of AgNWs against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. The CS-HACS-AgNWs composite scaffold demonstrated suitable Ca/P deposition, improved gel strength, reduced gelation time, and sustained Ag⁺ release within therapeutic concentrations. Antibacterial studies showed that the composite formulation was capable of inhibiting bacterial growth in suspension, and able to completely prevent biofilm formation on the scaffold in the presence of resistant strains. The hydrogels were also shown to be biocompatible, allowing cell proliferation. In summary, the developed CS-HACS-AgNWs composite hydrogels demonstrated significant potential as a scaffold material to be employed in bone regenerative medicine, as they present enhanced mechanical strength combined with the ability to allow calcium salts deposition, while efficiently decreasing the risk of infections. The results presented justify further investigations into the potential clinical applications of these materials.

Keywords: antimicrobial activity; bone regeneration; chitosan hydrogels; controlled release; silver nanowires.