Ability of adhesion and biofilm formation of pathogens of periprosthetic joint infections on titanium-niobium nitride (TiNbN) ceramic coatings

Alessandro Bidossi, Marta Bottagisio, Roberta De Grandi, Elena De Vecchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Orthopedic metal implants are notoriously associated with release of metallic ions able to cause biological adverse reactions which might lead to implant loosening and failure. To limit any possible adverse reactions, ceramic coatings for orthopedic metal implants have been introduced. However, information regarding the interaction of these coatings with microbes responsible for periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) is lacking. Hence, the aim of the present in vitro study is to assess the microbial affinity to a titanium-niobium nitride (TiNbN) coating. Methods: Adhesion and biofilm formation of clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Cutibacterium acnes were assessed on TiNbN-coated titanium discs in comparison with uncoated titanium and cobalt-chrome alloys discs, with either smooth or rough surfaces. Bacterial adhesion was performed by counting adhered bacteria in the first hours of incubation, and the biofilm formation was performed by means of a spectrophotometric assay and by confocal laser scan microscopy after 72 hours of incubation. Results: Overall, Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, among the most common bacteria responsible for PJIs, displayed a significantly decreased attachment in the first hours of contact and, when cultured in presence of TiNbN coating, in comparison with CoCrMo. Biofilm formation of the four tested strains was comparable on all alloys. Conclusions: Although the onset of a PJI is more complex than in an in vitro scenario, these findings suggest that TiNbN-coated orthopedic implants do not increase PJIs risk while ameliorating tribological and surface properties could represent a valid choice to limit possible complications such as metal hypersensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 4 2020


  • Biofilms
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Metal ceramic alloys
  • Prostheses and implants
  • Prosthesis-related infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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