The surface of implants, as well as other medical devices, plays a significant role in the adsorption of oral proteins and the colonisation by unwanted microorganisms (a process known as biofouling), according to a new study led by researchers in the US and Germany.
The research by a team from the University at Buffalo, NY, and the University of Regensburg—and published in the Journal of Dental Research—ought to increase scientists’ understanding of this complex biological process by examining the make-up of the oral protein layer and how it can be controlled by chemically modifying the biomaterial surface. The findings lay the groundwork for improving the success of medical and dental implants.
Using silica beads designed with various chemically modified surfaces, the researchers found that the adsorption of proteins from blood plasma is more influenced by the amount of protein adsorbed than by the composition of the protein layer.
However, the adsorption of proteins from saliva was directly impacted by the biomaterial’s surface. Adsorption was lower on surfaces that had a negative electric charge or that repelled water, countering the findings of previous studies.
When examining complex biofluids such as saliva and blood, adsorption became unpredictable for the majority of proteins.
“The interaction between the proteins contained in the biofluids may play an important, but still little understood, role in adsorption processes,” Professor Rainer Müller at the University of Regensburg said.
“The ultimate goal to connect surface properties to protein adsorption so that optimal tissue compatibility will be achieved but microbial adhesion will be prevented, will likely not be as straightforward as expected.”