Polyurethane anionomers containing metal ions with antimicrobial properties: Thermal, mechanical and biological characterization

I. Francolini, L. D'Ilario, E. Guaglianone, G. Donelli, A. Martinelli, A. Piozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years the employment of implantable medical devices has increased remarkably, notwithstanding that microbial infections are a frequent complication associated with their use. Different strategies have been attempted to overcome this problem, including the incorporation of antimicrobial agents into the device itself. In this study a new approach to obtain intrinsically antimicrobial materials was developed. Polymer anionomers containing Ag(I), Cu(II), Zn(II), Al(III) and Fe(III) were prepared by neutralization of a carboxylated polyurethane. In the case of the PEUA-Ag, PEUA-Fe and PEUA-Cu ionomers the ion aggregates behaved as reinforcing filler particles, increasing the mechanical properties of the systems in terms of hardness and strength at break over the pristine carboxylated polymer. With the exception of the Al-containing polymer, all the other experimented ionomers showed satisfactory antimicrobial properties. The best antibacterial effect was obtained with the silver ion-containing polymer, which inhibited Staphylococcus epidermidis growth for up to 16 days. Ciprofloxacin was also adsorbed onto the above mentioned ionomers. A synergistic effect of the antibiotic and silver ions on bacterial growth inhibition was observed for at least 25 days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3482-3490
Number of pages9
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • Antibacterial polymers
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Medical device-related infections
  • Polyurethane anionomers
  • Silver ions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medicine(all)


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