3D Printing of Drug-Loaded Thermoplastic Polyurethane Meshes: A Potential Material for Soft Tissue Reinforcement in Vaginal Surgery.

Current strategies to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI), include the surgical implantation of vaginal meshes. Recently, there have been multiple reports of issues generated by these meshes conventionally made of poly(propylene). This material is not the ideal candidate, due to its mechanical properties leading to complications such as chronic pain and infection. In the present manuscript, we propose the use of an alternative material, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), loaded with an antibiotic in combination with fused deposition modelling (FDM) to prepare safer vaginal meshes. For this purpose, TPU filaments containing levofloxacin (LFX) in various concentrations (e.g., 0.25%, 0.5%, and 1%) were produced by extrusion. These filaments were used to 3D print vaginal meshes. The printed meshes were fully characterized through different tests/analyses such as fracture force studies, attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared, thermal analysis, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray microcomputed tomography (μCT), release studies and microbiology testing. The results showed that LFX was uniformly distributed within the TPU matrix, regardless the concentration loaded. The mechanical properties showed that poly(propylene) (PP) is a tougher material with a lower elasticity than TPU, which seemed to be a more suitable material due to its elasticity. In addition, the printed meshes showed a significant bacteriostatic activity on both Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli cultures, minimising the risk of infection after implanting them. Therefore, the incorporation of LFX to the TPU matrix can be used to prepare anti-infective vaginal meshes with enhanced mechanical properties compared with current PP vaginal meshes.

Pharmaceutics. 2020 Jan 13*** epublish ***

Juan Domínguez-Robles, Caterina Mancinelli, Elena Mancuso, Inmaculada García-Romero, Brendan F Gilmore, Luca Casettari, Eneko Larrañeta, Dimitrios A Lamprou

School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast, Lisburn Road 97, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK., Nanotechnology and Integrated Bio-Engineering Centre (NIBEC), Ulster University, Jordanstown Campus, Jordanstown BT37 0QB, UK., Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK., Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Piazza del Rinascimento 6, 61029 Urbino, Italy.

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