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8th Combined Meeting Of Orthopaedic Research Societies (CORS)


Summary Statement

The problem facing this research is to promote rapid osteointegration of titanium implants and to minimise the risks of infections by the functionalization with different agents, each designed for a specific action. A patented process gives a multifunctional titanium surface.


A patented process of surface modification is described. It gives a multifunctional surface with a multiscale roughness (micro and nano topography), that is excellent for osteoblast adhesion and differentiation. It has a high degree of hydroxylation, that is relevant for inorganic bioactivity (apatite-HA precipitation) and it is ready for a functionalization with biological factors. A direct grafting of ALP has been obtained. Moreover, the growth of an antibacterial agent within the surface oxide layer can be useful in order to combine the osteoinduction ability to antimicrobial effects. The selection of an inorganic agent (metal nanoparticles) has the advantage to avoid an eventual development of antibiotic resistance by bacteria.

Experimental Methods

Ti-cp and Ti6Al4V samples were polished or blasted, etched in diluted hydrofluoric acid (step 1a), oxidised in hydrogen peroxide (step 1b), incubated in Tresyl chloride (step 2a) and Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) enzyme (step 2b) [1, 2]. A water solution, containing a salt of the metal to be added to the surface as an inorganic antibacterial agent, can be introduced during the oxidation in hydrogen peroxide. Surface morphology and chemical composition were investigated by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM) equipped with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS). The composition of the outermost surface layer and the chemical state of elements were analyzed by X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). The activity of grafted enzyme was studied by an enzymatic activity test. In vitro bioactivity was evaluated by soaking the samples in simulated body fluid and SEM observation to verify hydroxyapatite (HA) precipitation. Antibacterial activity has been determined by inhibition halo test against S aureus.

Results and Discussion

A peculiar multi-scale topography, with spongy-like nanometric features, was obtained after the inorganic treatment (step 1a-1b). This morphology can be superimposed on the micro-or macro roughness deriving from acid etching or blasting, by properly optimizing the process parameters. Moreover, the treated surfaces present a high density of hydroxyl groups (XPS data) and they are bioactive (HA precipitation after soaking in SBF for 15 days). Metal (Ag, Cu, Zn) nanoparticles can be grown within the surface oxide layer and they are effective as antimicrobial inorganic agents. The amount of the metal nanoparticles can be tailored in order to have an antibacterial or a bacteriostatic surface. The effective grafting of ALP (step 2a-2b) has been shown by XPS because of the appearance of characteristic peaks in the carbon region. Moreover, it has been observed that ALP maintains its activity after grafting by an enzymatic activity test. ALP grafting improves HA precipitation kinetics.


An innovative process was applied to titanium surfaces in order to obtain a better bone integration ability and antibacterial activity. A multi scale surface topography (micro and nano features) was successfully obtained together with an high hydroxylation degree. Modified surfaces are able to induce hydroxyapatite precipitation in vitro and to graft ALP, maintaining its activity and improving bioactivity. Metal nanoparticles embedded in the surface oxide layer have an antibacterial effect.