The influence of surface modification on bacterial adhesion to titanium-based substrates

M. Lorenzetti, I. Dogša, T. Stošicki, D. Stopar, M. Kalin, S. Kobe, S. Novak

ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 7 (2015) 1644–1651.


This study examines bacterial adhesion on titanium-substrates used for bone implants. Adhesion is the most critical phase of bacterial colonization on medical devices. The surface of titanium was modified by hydrothermal treatment (HT) to synthesize nanostructured TiO₂-anatase coatings, which were previously proven to improve corrosion resistance, affect the plasma protein adsorption, and enhance osteogenesis. The affinity of the anatase coatings toward bacterial attachment was studied by using a green fluorescent protein-expressing Escherichia coli (gfp-E. coli) strain in connection with surface photoactivation by UV irradiation. We also analyzed the effects of surface topography, roughness, charge, and wettability. The results suggested the dominant effects of the macroscopic surface topography, as well as microasperity at the surface roughness scale, which were produced during titanium machining, HT treatment, or both. Macroscopic grooves provided a preferential site for bacteria deposit within the valleys, while the microscopic roughness of the valleys determined the actual interaction surface between bacterium and substrate, resulting in an “interlocking” effect and undesired high bacterial adhesion on nontreated titanium. In the case of TiO₂-coated samples, the nanocrystals reduced the width between the microasperities and thus added nanoroughness features. These factors decreased the contact area between the bacterium and the coating, with consequent lower bacterial adhesion (up to 50 % less) in comparison to the nontreated titanium. On the other hand, the pronounced hydrophilicity of one of the HT-coated discs after pre-irradiation seemed to enhance the attachment of bacteria, although the increase was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). This observation may be explained by the acquired similar degree of wetting between gfp-E. coli and the coating. No correlation was found between the bacterial adhesion and the ζ-values of the samples in PBS, so the effect of surface charge was considered negligible in this study.


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