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Systematic enhancement of microbial decontamination efficiency in bone graft processing by means of high hydrostatic pressure using Escherichia coli as a model organism.

  • Loeffler, Henrike1
  • Waletzko-Hellwig, Janine1
  • Fischer, Ralf-Joerg2
  • Basen, Mirko2, 3
  • Frank, Marcus4, 5
  • Jonitz-Heincke, Anika1
  • Bader, Rainer1
  • Klinder, Annett1
  • 1 Biomechanics and Implant Technology Research Laboratory, Department of Orthopedics, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 2 Microbiology, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 3 Department Maritime Systems, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Research, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 4 Medical Biology and Electron Microscopy Center, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 5 Department Life, Light and Matter, Faculty for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany. , (Germany)
Published Article
Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B Applied Biomaterials
Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
DOI: 10.1002/jbm.b.35383
PMID: 38345152


To obtain bone allografts that are safe for transplantation, several processing steps for decellularization and decontamination have to be applied. Currently available processing methods, although well-established, may interfere with the biomechanical properties of the bone. High hydrostatic pressure (HHP) is known to devitalize tissues effectively while leaving the extracellular matrix intact. However, little is known about the inactivation of the contaminating microorganisms by HHP. This study aims to investigate the ability of high-pressure decontamination and to establish a treatment protocol that is able to successfully inactivate microorganisms with the final goal to sterilize bone specimens. Using Escherichia coli (E. coli) as a model organism, HHP treatment parameters like temperature and duration, pressurization medium, and the number of treatment cycles were systematically adjusted to maximize the efficiency of inactivating logarithmic and stationary phase bacteria. Towards that we quantified colony-forming units (cfu) after treatment and investigated morphological changes via Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM). Additionally, we tested the decontamination efficiency of HHP in bovine cancellous bone blocks that were contaminated with bacteria. Finally, two further model organisms were evaluated, namely Pseudomonas fluorescens as a Gram-negative microorganism and Micrococcus luteus as a Gram-positive representative. A HHP protocol, using 350 MPa, was able to sterilize a suspension of stationary phase E. coli, leading to a logarithmic reduction factor (log RF) of at least -7.99 (±0.43). The decontamination of bone blocks was less successful, indicating a protective effect of the surrounding tissue. Sterilization of 100% of the samples was achieved when a protocol optimized in terms of treatment temperature, duration, pressurization medium, and number and/or interval of cycles, respectively, was applied to bone blocks artificially contaminated with a suspension containing 104 cfu/mL. Hence, we here successfully established protocols for inactivating Gram-negative model microorganisms by HHP of up to 350 MPa, while pressure levels of 600 MPa were needed to inactivate the Gram-positive model organism. Thus, this study provides a basis for further investigations on different pathogenic bacteria that could enable the use of HHP in the decontamination of bone grafts intended for transplantation. © 2024 The Authors. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

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