Early Adherence and Biofilm Formation of Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) On Spinal Implant Materials.Spine J 2020SJ
Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) is associated with infection following shoulder and spine surgery due to follicular pore concentrations in these anatomic regions. It has been established that it can form biofilms on surgical implant materials, which may contribute to its role in perioperative infection, but its behavior of early colonization on those materials is not yet well understood.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the time to adherence and subsequent biofilm formation of C. acnes in the first 24 hours on implant materials commonly used in spinal surgery.
We compared the colonization and behavior of C. acnes over time when applied to 5 commonly used spine implant materials: polyether ether ketone (PEEK), cobalt chromium (CC), stainless steel (SS), titanium (Ti), and titanium alloy (TiA).
C. acnes was applied onto samples of PEEK, CC, SS, Ti, and TiA, and allowed to adhere for periods of 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 hours. Nonadherent bacteria were then washed from the samples. These samples were then allowed to continue incubating for a total 24 hours. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) were used to visualize all samples for the presence and quantification of C. acnes adherence at each time period. Subsequent transition to biofilm formation on these samples was assessed via SEM at each time period.
The PEEK specimens exhibited the highest amount of surface biological burden in the first 24 hours compared to the other materials, which displayed little or no adherence. Rapid biofilm formation first observed at 8 hours of allowed adhesion on PEEK, whereas no significant biofilm formation was seen on the other materials during the observed time period.
Although C. acnes is known to have a slow proliferation rate, the results of this investigation demonstrate that it can rapidly adhere to and form biofilm on PEEK. These data suggest that the use of PEEK implants placed during spinal surgery may facilitate early intraoperative colonization, and subsequent infection, compared to metallic implants.
The findings of this study suggest that PEEK may prove to be problematic as a choice of implant material in cases were C. acnes infection is a possibility.