Antibiotic Modification of Native Grafts: Improving upon nature's scaffolds

Constantinos Ketonis, Thomas Jefferson University


The use of allograft bone in orthopaedics, spine surgery and dentistry is invaluable for helping restore bone defects and promote osteointegration. However, one, and perhaps the most important, problem associated with the use of allograft is infection. It is a devastating complication for patients and physicians alike, and necessitates repeated surgeries, extended treatment and often times results in increased morbidity and poor outcomes. Previous attempts to incorporate antibiotics into allograft by soaking the graft in antibiotic solution have enjoyed limited success in providing adequate protection against bacterial colonization. To overcome problems associated with controlled release systems, I have described a novel chemical modification that allows for the attachment of vancomycin, or other antibiotics, to free amines of allograft bone thus rendering the graft bactericidal over a long time period. This modification, as evaluated by immunohistochemistry, allowed for the uniform and stable attachment of antibiotics to allograft without adversely affecting its potential for incorporation with bone. Modified allograft, placed in the presence of S. aureus, did not allow colonization by bacteria as evaluated by fluorescent imaging, scanning microscopy, and direct bacterial counts. More importantly, inhibition of bacterial colonization resulted in prevention of biofilm formation. Furthermore, I show that the spectrum of activity of the parent antibiotic was maintained, as the construct was not active against E. coli challenges. Comparison of this technology with simple antibiotic incorporation demonstrated that the covalently-coupled antibiotic did not elute from the bone, but rather remained attached and active on the surface for times out to one year, times that are far longer than currently can be achieved with the elution technologies. Despite its potent activity against bacteria, modified bone remained biocompatible allowing attachment of osteoblastic-like cells with no increased toxicity. Furthermore, the antibiotic-modified allograft incorporated well into tibial defects in the rat. Finally, this construct was efficacious in decreasing the severity of infection and host reaction when impacted in an in vivo model of allograft-associated infection. Thus, our proposed modification in surface design serves as a starting point for the development of a new generation of bone grafts that are biologically active at sites of physiological importance.

Subject Area

Biomedical engineering|Medicine|Nanotechnology

Recommended Citation

Ketonis, Constantinos, "Antibiotic Modification of Native Grafts: Improving upon nature's scaffolds" (2011). ETD Collection for Thomas Jefferson University. AAI3444250.