Development of an antibacterial nanocomposite hydrogel for human dental pulp engineering
Hydrogel-based regenerative endodontic procedures (REPs) are considered to be very promising therapeutic strategies to reconstruct the dental pulp (DP) tissue in devitalized human teeth. However, the success of the regeneration process is limited by residual bacteria that may persist in the endodontic space after the disinfection step and contaminate the biomaterial. The aim of this work was to develop an innovative fibrin hydrogel incorporating clindamycin (CLIN)-loaded Poly (D,L) Lactic Acid (PLA) nanoparticles (NPs) to provide the hydrogel with antibacterial properties. CLIN-PLA-NPs were synthesized by a surfactant-free nanoprecipitation method and their microphysical properties were assessed by dynamic light scattering, electrophoretic mobility and scanning electron microscopy. Their antimicrobial efficacy was evaluated on Enteroccocus fæcalis by the determination of the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) and the minimal biofilm inhibition and eradication concentrations (MBIC and MBEC). Antibacterial properties of the nanocomposite hydrogel were verified by agar diffusion assays. NP distribution into the hydrogel and release from it were evaluated using fluorescent PLA-NPs. NP cytotoxicity was assessed on DP mesenchymal stem cells (DP-MSCs) incorporated into the hydrogel. Type I collagen synthesis was investigated after 7 days of culture by immunohistochemistry. We found that CLIN-PLA-NPs displayed a drug loading of 10 ± 2 μg per mg of PLA polymer and an entrapment efficiency of 43 ± 7%. Antibiotic loading did not affect NP size, polydispersity index and zeta potential. The MIC for Enterococcus fæcalis was 32 μg mL−1. MBIC50 and MBEC50 were 4 and 16 μg mL−1, respectively. CLIN-PLA-NPs appeared homogenously distributed throughout the hydrogel. CLIN-PLA-NP-loaded hydrogels clearly inhibited E. faecalis growth. DP-MSC viability and type I collagen synthesis within the fibrin hydrogel were not affected by CLIN-PLA-NPs. In conclusion, CLIN-PLA-NP incorporation into the fibrin hydrogel gave the latter antibacterial and antibiofilm properties without affecting cell viability and function. This formulation could help establish an aseptic environment supporting DP reconstruction and, accordingly, might be a valuable tool for REPs.