Adsorption of bovine serum albumin on silver surfaces enhances the release of silver at pH neutral conditions
Metallic biomaterials are widely used to replace and/or restore the function of damaged bodily parts. The use of silver as antibacterial coatings onto implants has recently gained large interest in medical applications. The extent of silver that can be released into different biological fluids from such coatings is, except for the surface characteristics of the coating, governed by parameters such as protein characteristics, adsorbed layer properties, formation of silver–protein complexes as well as concentrations of proteins in the solution. This study aims to relate the structure of adsorbed net negatively charged bovine serum albumin (BSA), which is the most abundant protein in serum, to the release of silver from metallic silver surfaces in order to elucidate if the net charge of the protein has any effect of the silver release. Simultaneous adsorption measurements were performed in real time on the very same surface using combined ellipsometry and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) measurements to provide a more comprehensive understanding on adsorption kinetics and layer structures. The amount of released silver into solution was measured by means of graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy (GF-AAS). The structure of the adsorbed BSA layer largely influenced the amount of released silver, an enhancement that increased with BSA concentration. These observations are in complete contrast to the effect of net positively charged lysozyme (LSZ) adsorbed on silver, previously studied by the authors, for which a complete surface coverage suppressed the possibility for silver release. The underlying mechanisms behind the enhanced release of silver in the presence of BSA were mainly attributed to surface complexation between BSA and silver followed by an enhanced exchange rate of these surface complexes with BSA molecules in the solution, which in turn increase the amount of released silver in solution.