Ciprofloxacin-loaded bioadhesive hydrogels for ocular applications†
The management of corneal infections often requires complex therapeutic regimens involving the prolonged and high-frequency application of antibiotics that provide many challenges to patients and impact compliance with the therapeutic regimens. In the context of severe injuries that lead to tissue defects (e.g. corneal lacerations) topical drug regimens are inadequate and suturing is often indicated. There is thus an unmet need for interventions that can provide tissue closure while concurrently preventing or treating infection. In this study, we describe the development of an antibacterial bioadhesive hydrogel loaded with micelles containing ciprofloxacin (CPX) for the management of corneal injuries at risk of infection. The in vitro release profile showed that the hydrogel system can release CPX, a broad-spectrum antibacterial drug, for up to 24 h. Moreover, the developed CPX-loaded hydrogels exhibited excellent antibacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, two bacterial strains responsible for the most ocular infections. Physical characterization, as well as adhesion and cytocompatibility tests, were performed to assess the effect of CPX loading in the developed hydrogel. Results showed that CPX loading did not affect stiffness, adhesive properties, or cytocompatibility of hydrogels. The efficiency of the antibacterial hydrogel was assessed using an ex vivo model of infectious pig corneal injury. Corneal tissues treated with the antibacterial hydrogel showed a significant decrease in bacterial colony-forming units (CFU) and a higher corneal epithelial viability after 24 h as compared to non-treated corneas and corneas treated with hydrogel without CPX. These results suggest that the developed adhesive hydrogel system presents a promising suture-free solution to seal corneal wounds while preventing infection.