Developmental Strategies to Address Prosthetic Infection and Magneto-Responsive Biomaterials for Orthopaedic Applications
The issue of prosthetic infection leading to implant failure due to the formation of bacterial biofilms on biomaterial surfaces has been widely recognized as a major issue, often leading to revision surgery. The growing number of patients requiring synthetic biomaterials as implants is on the rise and so is the risk of infection arising from pre/peri-/post-operative surgical procedures. Traditional antibiotic treatment has led to the emergence of bacterial drug resistance. Therefore, the development of novel bactericidal methods to combat drug resistant microbial pathogens is the need of the hour. The first part of the thesis is an attempt to address prosthetic infection by the development of novel ultrasmall gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) which are cytocompatible and present a therapeutic dosage window for eliciting antimicrobial property. Towards this end, ultrasmall AuNPs with 0.8 nm and 1.4 nm gold core sizes, stabilized by monosulphonated triphenylphosphine ligand shells were synthesized. Such intricately designed AuNPs with ultrasmall gold cores and phosphine-based ligand chemistry were demonstrated to be highly potent bactericidal agents against staphylococci, the most common human pathogen causing biomaterial associated infection. The antibacterial efficacy of these AuNPs was significant even in mature staphylococcal biofilms. In another study, the application of high strength pulse magnetic fields (1-4 Tesla) was examined for bacterial growth inactivation in vitro. A magnetic field strength dependent decrease in bacterial viability with a concomitant increase in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and longer doubling times were recorded. The mechanism of action was explained through an analytical model which involves ion-transport interference of essential ions like Ca2+ and Mg2+ and disruption of FeS clusters leading to inactivation of bacterial redox enzymes. On the contrary, such high magnetic fields did not pose any detrimental effects to eukaryotic cells under similar exposure. Additionally, the potency of low intensity direct current electric field (DC EF: 1V/cm) against biofilm formation by methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was explored on antimicrobial surfaces of hydroxyapatite and Zinc oxide (HA-xZnO; x = 0, 5, 7.5 and 10 wt%). An EF exposure time dependent decline in the viability and stability of MRSA biofilms were noted. Further, EF treatment resulted in bacterial membrane depolarization and reduced biofilm formation on HA-ZnO composites, independent of the substrate composition. In summary, the above three studies were cases of the developmental methods to address prothetic infection. The second part of the thesis is focused on the development of magneto-responsive biomaterials as implants for orthopaedic applications. Under this category, the sintering/ hot pressing of hydroxyapatite-magnetite (HA-xFe3O4; x = 0, 5, 10, 20 and 40 wt%) powders in oxidizing and inert atmospheres was carried out and the resulting phases and microstructure were characterized. A detailed analysis of the phase assemblage by Rietveld refinement of the X-ray diffraction (XRD) data and Mössbauer spectroscopy revealed the major retention of Fe3O4 along with wustite (FeO) formation under reducing conditions while hematite (α-Fe2O3) was the oxidized product of conventional sintering in ambient atmosphere. A good correlation between the unit cell volume increases in HA observed from Rietveld refinements and Fe incorporation into the apatite lattice from Mössbauer spectral parameters was evident. Further, the Mössbauer data analysis indicated a preferential occupancy of Fe at the Ca(1) site under oxidizing conditions and Ca(2) site in inert atmosphere. The above phase analyses were further confirmed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and CHN analysis. The microstructure of the hot-pressed samples observed under transmission electron microscope (TEM) divulged similar phases as deduced from XRD as well as the formation of translational Moire fringe patterns due to inference of overlapping crystal planes of HA and Fe3O4 in the HA-40 wt% composite. Such translational Moire fringes suggest a preferred arrangement and orientation of the crystallites resulting from hot-pressing, which correlated well with the room temperature magnetic measurements made with the help of a vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM). The compositional similarity of Fe doping in HA to that of the tooth enamel and bone presents these HA-Fe3O4 composites as potent dental/ orthopaedic implant materials. In the conclusive study, the hot-pressed HA-xFe3O4 composites were tested for their efficacy in supporting the osteogenesis of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) assisted by intermittent static magnetic field exposure. The magneto-responsive substrates were applied as platforms for the culture of hMSCs and the effect of static magnetic field (SMF) exposure on the viability, proliferation and differentiation of hMSCs were elucidated. With a mild compromise in viability, SMF triggered the osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs mediated by proliferative arrest in the G0/G1 phase and elevated intracellular calcium levels. The early bone marker genes - Runx2, Col IA and ALP were significantly up regulated upon SMF exposure on pure HA and HA-Fe3O4 composites. Further, the late osteogenic markers – OCN and OPN were detected exclusively in the HA-xFe3O4 (x = 10 and 40 wt%) composites. Matrix mineralization was enhanced and CaP nodules were detected on similar SMF treated HA-Fe3O4 composites. A substrate magnetization and time dependent modulation of gene expression was recorded which corroborated well with the temporal trending of osteogenic genes during bone development. In conclusion, substrate magnetization can be applied as a tool to modulate the behavior of stem cells and direct them towards osteogenic lineage. Such a pertinent combination of substrate magnetization and external magnetic field stimulation can be applied synergistically for stem cell based bone tissue engineering applications.