Polymeric multilayers that localize the release of chlorhexidine from biologic wound dressings

Ankit Agarwal, Tyler B. Nelson, Patricia R. Kierski, Michael J. Schurr, Christopher J Murphy, Charles J. Czuprynski, Jonathan F. McAnulty, Nicholas L. Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Biologic wound dressings contain animal-derived components and are susceptible to high infection rates. To address this issue, we report an approach that permits incorporation of non-toxic levels of the small molecule antiseptic 'chlorhexidine' into biologic dressings. The approach relies on the fabrication of polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEMs) films containing poly(allylaminehydrochloride) (PAH), poly(acrylicacid) (PAA), and chlorhexidine acetate (CX) on elastomeric poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) sheets. The PEMs (20-100 nm thick) are subsequently stamped onto the wound-contact surface of a synthetic biologic dressing, Biobrane, which contains collagen peptides. Chlorhexidine loading in the PEMs was tailored by tuning the number of (CX/PAA) bilayers deposited, providing burst release of up to 0.98 ± 0.06 μg/cm2 of CX over 24 h, followed by zero-order release of 0.35 ± 0.04 μg/cm2/day for another week. Although the CX concentrations released were below the reported in vitro cytotoxicity limit (5 μg/mL over 24 h) for human dermal fibroblasts, they killed 4 log10 counts of pathogenic bacteria Staphylococcus aureus in solution. The CX/PEMs could be stamped onto Biobrane with high efficiency to provide CX release kinetics and in vitro antibacterial activity similar to that on PDMS stamps. In a full-thickness 'splinted' dermal wound-model in normal wild-type mice, the CX-functionalized Biobrane showed no decrease in either its adherence to the wound-bed or wound closure rate over 14 days. The murine wounds topically inoculated with ∼105 CFU/cm2 of S. aureus and treated with CX-functionalized Biobrane demonstrated a 3 log10 decrease in the wound's bacterial burden within 3 days, compared to persistent bacterial colonization found in wounds treated with unmodified Biobrane (n = 10 mice, p < 0.005). Overall, this study presents a promising approach to prevent bacterial colonization in wounds under biologic dressings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6783-6792
Number of pages10
Issue number28
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Antimicrobial
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Dressing
  • Mice
  • Polyelectrolye multilayers
  • Wound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Biophysics


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