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8th Combined Meeting Of Orthopaedic Research Societies (CORS)



Prosthetic UHMWPE added with vitamin E and crosslinked UHMWPE are able to decrease significantly the adhesion of various bacterial and fungal strains limiting biomaterial associated infection and consequent implant failure.


Polyethylene abrasive and oxidative wear induces overtime in vivo a foreign-body response and consequently osteolysis, pain and need of implant revision. To solve these problems the orthopaedic research has been addressed to develop new biomaterials such as a crosslinked polyethylene with a higher molecular mass than standard Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), and consequently a higher abrasive wear resistance and an antioxidant (vitamin E)-added UHMWPE to avoid oxidative wear. Nevertheless a feared complication of implant surgery is bacterial or fungal infection, initiated by microbial adhesion and biofilm formation, and related to the biomaterial surface characteristics. Staphylococci are the most common microorganisms causing biomaterial associated infection (BAI), followed by streptococci, Gram-negative bacilli and yeasts. With the aim to prevent BAI, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the adhesion of various microbial strains on different prosthetic materials with specific surface chemical characteristics, used in orthopaedic surgery.


We compared the effects of vitamin E-added UHMWPE and crosslinked UHMWPE with that of standard GUR 1020 UHMWPE, upon the adhesion of ATCC biofilm-producing strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis, S. aureus, Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. After different incubation times the samples were sonicated to release the attached microorganisms and spread onto agar to quantify colony forming units (UFC)/ml. The biomaterials were physico-chemically characterised by means of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), water contact angle (CA) measurements and attenuated total reflectance (ATR)-fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, before and after adhesion assays. The experiments were assayed in triplicate and repeated a minimum of three times. A statistical analysis on results was conducted.


No significant difference of the surface roughness, CA and ATR-FTIR spectroscopy was found among the different biomaterials. After 3 and 7 h of incubation microbial adhesion rates were similar with no statistically relevant differences among the samples assayed. On the contrary, after 24 and 48 h of incubation a significantly (p<0.05 and p<0.01) different adhesion trend was achieved on the three biomaterials, highlighting a microbial adhesion significantly lower on vitamin E-added UHMWPE and crosslinked UHMWPE compared with that on standard UHMWPE.


Standard UHMWPE, vitamin E-added UHMWPE and crosslinked UHMWPE were chosen because of their diffusion in the clinical use. Previously we showed that vitamin E addition to the UHMWPE reduces the adhesive ability of various staphylococcal strains, compared with standard UHMWPE, and we correlated this results with its antioxidant properties. The results of this study indicate a quite similar significant reduction of bacterial and fungal adhesion on either vitamin E-added UHMWPE and crosslinked UHMWPE, if compared to standard UHMWPE at 48h. Further analysis on the chemical- physical characteristics of the UHMWPE surfaces and on their morphology are needed to explain the different adhesions.