Electrospun nanofibers of polyelectrolyte–surfactant complexes for antibacterial wound dressing application†
The development of polyelectrolyte–surfactant complexes (PESCs) has attracted extensive research interest in different fields of applications. However, the liquid state of PESCs has limited their utility in applications where solid materials are required. In this study, novel antibacterial fibers were fabricated via electrospinning PESCs in the solid state without any additives. The PESCs were prepared in aqueous mixtures of pre-hydrolyzed polyacrylonitrile (HPAN), a polyelectrolyte, and cetyltrimethyl ammonium chloride (CTAC), an antibacterial cationic surfactant, by taking advantage of the self-aggregation behavior of the polyelectrolyte and surfactant, which increased the antibacterial agent loading ability and, thus, the antibacterial activity of polymers. By release-killing and contact-killing mechanisms, the as-spun PESC nanofibrous membranes exhibited strong antibacterial ability against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, killing 5 log CFU of E. coli and S. aureus within a contact time as short as 30 min. Furthermore, PESCs were blended with polycaprolactone (PCL) to prepare composite nanofibrous membranes as a novel wound dressing, which showed excellent antibacterial activity and favorable cytocompatibility, with the mechanical strength high enough to satisfy the clinical application requirements. The PESC fibers with durable antibacterial activity presented in the current work would be promising for medical applications.