Publication
Biomaterials
Paper

Block copolymer mixtures as antimicrobial hydrogels for biofilm eradication

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Abstract

Current antimicrobial strategies have mostly been developed to manage infections due to planktonic cells. However, microbes in their nature state will tend to exist by attaching to and growing on living and inanimate surfaces that result in the formation of biofilms. Conventional therapies for treating biofilm-related infections are likely to be insufficient due to the lower susceptibility of microbes that are embedded in the biofilm matrix. In this study, we report the development of biodegradable hydrogels from vitamin E-functionalized polycarbonates for antimicrobial applications. These hydrogels were formed by incorporating positively-charged polycarbonates containing propyl and benzyl side chains with vitamin E moiety into physically cross-linked networks of "ABA"-type polycarbonate and poly(ethylene glycol) triblock copolymers. Investigations of the mechanical properties of the hydrogels showed that the G' values ranged from 1400 to 1600Pa and the presence of cationic polycarbonate did not affect the stiffness of the hydrogels. Shear-thinning behavior was observed as the hydrogels displayed high viscosity at low shear rates that dramatically decreased as the shear rate increased. Invitro antimicrobial studies revealed that the more hydrophobic VE/BnCl(1:30)-loaded hydrogels generally exhibited better antimicrobial/antifungal effects compared to the VE/PrBr(1:30) counterpart as lower minimum biocidal concentrations (MBC) were observed in Staphylococcus aureus (Gram-positive), Escherichia coli (Gram-negative) and Candida albicans (fungus) (156.2, 312.5, 312.5mg/L for VE/BnCl(1:30) and 312.5, 2500 and 625mg/L for VE/PrBr(1:30) respectively). Similar trends were observed for the treatment of biofilms where VE/BnCl(1:30)-loaded hydrogels displayed better efficiency with regards to eradication of biomass and reduction of microbe viability of the biofilms. Furthermore, a high degree of synergistic antimicrobial effects was also observed through the co-delivery of antimicrobial polycarbonates with a conventionally-used antifungal agent, fluconazole. These hydrogels also displayed excellent compatibility with human dermal fibroblasts with cell viability >80% after treatment with hydrogels loaded with cationic polymers and/or fluconazole at minimum biocidal concentrations (MBC). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Date

01 Dec 2013

Publication

Biomaterials