Biodegradation and antimicrobial properties of zinc oxide-polymer composite materials for urinary stent applications
Devine, Declan M.
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Research advancements in the field of urinary stents have mainly been in the selection of materials and coatings to address commonly faced problems of encrustation and bacterial adhesion. In this study, polylactic acid (PLA) and polypropylene (PP) were evaluated with zinc oxide (ZnO) coating to assess its ability to reduce or eliminate the problems of encrustation and bacteria adhesion. PLA and PP films were prepared via twin screw extrusion. ZnO microparticles were prepared using sol-gel hydrothermal synthesis. The as-prepared ZnO microparticles were combined in the form of a functional coating and deposited on both polymer substrates using a doctor blade technique. The ZnO-coated PP and PLA samples as well as their uncoated counterparts were characterized from the physicochemical standpoints, antibacterial and biodegradation properties. The results demonstrated that both the polymers preserved their mechanical and thermal properties after coating with ZnO, which showed a better adhesion on PLA than on PP. Moreover, the ZnO coating successfully enhanced the antibacterial properties with respect to bare PP/PLA substrates. All the samples were investigated after immersion in simulated body fluid and artificial urine. The ZnO layer was completely degraded following 21 days immersion in artificial urine irrespective of the substrate, with encrustations more evident in PP and ZnO-coated PP films than PLA and ZnO-coated PLA films. Overall, the addition of ZnO coating on PLA displayed better adhesion, antibacterial activity and delayed the deposition of encrustations in comparison to PP substrates.
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