Antibacterial efficacy of silver-impregnated polyelectrolyte multilayers immobilized on a biological dressing in a murine wound infection model

Kathleen M. Guthrie, Ankit Agarwal, Dana S. Tackes, Kevin W. Johnson, Nicholas L. Abbott, Christopher J Murphy, Charles J. Czuprynski, Patricia R. Kierski, Michael J. Schurr, Jonathan F. McAnulty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the antibacterial effect of augmenting a biological dressing with polymer films containing silver nanoparticles. BACKGROUND: Biological dressings, such as Biobrane, are commonly used for treating partial-thickness wounds and burn injuries. Biological dressings have several advantages over traditional wound dressings. However, as many as 19% of wounds treated with Biobrane become infected, and, once infected, the Biobrane must be removed and a traditional dressing approach should be employed. Silver is a commonly used antimicrobial in wound care products, but current technology uses cytotoxic concentrations of silver in these dressings. We have developed a novel and facile technology that allows immobilization of bioactive molecules on the surfaces of soft materials, demonstrated here by augmentation of Biobrane with nanoparticulate silver. Surfaces modified with nanometer-thick polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs) impregnated with silver nanoparticles have been shown previously to result in in vitro antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus epidermidis at loadings of silver that are noncytotoxic. METHODS: We demonstrated that silver-impregnated PEMs can be nondestructively immobilized onto the surface of Biobrane (Biobrane-Ag) and determined the in vitro antibacterial activity of Biobrane-Ag with Staphylococcus aureus. In this study, we used an in vivo wound infection model in mice induced by topical inoculation of S aureus onto full-thickness 6-mm diameter wounds. After 72 hours, bacterial quantification was performed. RESULTS: Wounds treated with Biobrane-Ag had significantly (P < 0.001) fewer colony-forming units than wounds treated with unmodified Biobrane (more than 4 log10 difference). CONCLUSIONS: The results of our study indicate that immobilizing silver-impregnated PEMs on the wound-contact surface of Biobrane significantly reduces bacterial bioburden in full-thickness murine skin wounds. Further research will investigate whether this construct can be considered for human use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-377
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Biobrane
  • biological dressing
  • chronic wound
  • infection
  • murine
  • polyelectrolyte multilayers
  • silver nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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