Clinically isolated bacteria resistance to silver-based wound dressings

J Wound Care. 2021 Mar 2;30(3):238-247. doi: 10.12968/jowc.2021.30.3.238.


Objective: Silver has become a global treatment option with the US Food and Drug Administration providing marketing clearance for many silver-impregnated wound dressings and topical agents. However, the increased use of silver-based products across medical disciplines has raised questions concerning the development of acute silver resistance. In this study, the efficacy of previously identified silver-resistant clinical bacteria (Klebsiella pneumoniae and Enterobacter cloacae) against a variety of commercially available silver-based wound dressings was further investigated.

Method: To further explore the clinical significance of these isolates, multiple time-course and repeat-challenge assays were conducted with nine dressings using a panel of silver-resistant and silver-sensitive microorganisms. Silver-impregnated dressings were ranked by silver species, quantity of silver and overall efficacy.

Results: Both silver-resistant strains were largely unaffected and exhibited phenotypic resistance even when exposed to the high silver concentrations found in commercially available wound dressings. In stark contrast, the majority of the dressings were able to maintain a high degree of efficacy over the course of 72 hours and during repeated bacterial challenges against silver-sensitive microorganisms.

Conclusion: Our findings provide additional evidence that clinically significant silver-resistance has emerged in the clinical setting. Such resistant microbes are capable of sustained silver resistance against a wide variety of silver adjuvants. These findings suggest that the further development and dissemination of these resistance mechanisms could significantly impact current practices in wound healing.

Keywords: antimicrobial stewardship; infection; plasmid resistance; silver adjuvant; silver-resistance; wound; wound dressing; wound healing.