Biocompatibility analysis of an electrically-activated silver-based antibacterial surface system for medical device applications


The costs associated with the treatment of medical device and surgical site infections are a major cause of concern in the global healthcare system. To prevent transmission of such infections, a prophylactic surface system that provides protracted release of antibacterial silver ions using low intensity direct electric current (LIDC; 28 μA system current at 6 V) activation has been recently developed. To ensure the safety for future in vivo studies and potential clinical applications, this study assessed the biocompatibility of the LIDC-activated interdigitated silver electrodes-based surface system; in vitro toxicity to human epidermal keratinocytes, human dermal fibroblasts, and normal human osteoblasts, and antibacterial efficacy against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli was evaluated. The study concluded that the technological applications of the surface system for medical devices and surgical tools, which contact human tissues for less than 1.5 h, are expected to be self-sterilizing without causing toxicity in vivo.

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The cytotoxicity evaluation experiments were supported by a research Grant from ArgentumCidalElectrics, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA. The antimicrobial efficacy testing experiments were supported by a research Grant from North Carolina State University’s Research and Innovation Seeding Funding (RISF) Program.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Rohan A. Shirwaiker.

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Samberg, M.E., Tan, Z., Monteiro-Riviere, N.A. et al. Biocompatibility analysis of an electrically-activated silver-based antibacterial surface system for medical device applications. J Mater Sci: Mater Med 24, 755–760 (2013).

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  • Human Dermal Fibroblast
  • Transwell Insert
  • Human Epidermal Keratinocytes
  • Surface System
  • Antibacterial Efficacy