To prevent infections associated with medical implants, various antimicrobial silver-coated implant materials have been developed. However, these materials do not always provide consistent antibacterial effects in vivo despite having dramatic antibacterial effects in vitro, probably because the antibacterial effects involve silver-ion-mediated reactive oxygen species generation. Additionally, the silver application process often requires extremely high temperatures, which damage non-metal implant materials. We recently developed a bacteria-resistant coating consisting of hydroxyapatite film on which ionic silver is immobilized via inositol hexaphosphate chelation, using a series of immersion and drying steps performed at low heat. Here we applied this coating to a polymer, polyetheretherketone (PEEK), and analyzed the properties and antibacterial activity of the coated polymer in vitro and in vivo. The ionic silver coating demonstrated significant bactericidal activity and prevented bacterial biofilm formation in vitro. Bio-imaging of a soft tissue infection mouse model in which a silver-coated PEEK plate was implanted revealed a dramatic absence of bacterial signals 10 days after inoculation. These animals also showed a strong reduction in histological features of infection, compared to the control animals. This innovative coating can be applied to complex structures for clinical use, and could prevent infections associated with a variety of plastic implants.
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