Howell, Caitlin

Kovalenko Y, Sotiri I, Timonen JVI, Overton JC, Homes G, Aizenberg J, Howell C. Bacterial Interactions with Immobilized Liquid Layer. Adv. Healthcare Mater. 2017;6 (15) :1600948. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Bacterial interactions with surfaces are at the heart of many infection-related problems in healthcare. In this work, the interactions of clinically relevant bacteria with immobilized liquid (IL) layers on oil-infused polymers are investigated. Although oil-infused polymers reduce bacterial adhesion in all cases, complex interactions of the bacteria and liquid layer under orbital flow conditions are uncovered. The number of adherent Escherichia coli cells over multiple removal cycles increases in flow compared to static growth conditions, likely due to a disruption of the liquid layer continuity. Surprisingly, however, biofilm formation appears to remain low regardless of growth conditions. No incorporation of the bacteria into the layer is observed. Bacterial type is also found to affect the number of adherent cells, with more E. coli remaining attached under dynamic orbital flow than Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa under identical conditions. Tests with mutant E. coli lacking flagella confirm that flagella play an important role in adhesion to these surfaces. The results presented here shed new light on the interaction of bacteria with IL layers, highlighting the fundamental differences between oil-infused and traditional solid interfaces, as well as providing important information for their eventual translation into materials that reduce bacterial adhesion in medical applications.

Chen J, Howell C, Haller CA, Patel MS, Ayala P, Moravec KA, Dai E, Liu L, Sotiri I, Aizenberg M, et al. An immobilized liquid interface prevents device associated bacterial infection in vivo. Biomaterials. 2017;113 :80-92.Abstract

Virtually all biomaterials are susceptible to biofilm formation and, as a consequence, device-associated infection. The concept of an immobilized liquid surface, termed slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces (SLIPS), represents a new framework for creating a stable, dynamic, omniphobic surface that displays ultralow adhesion and limits bacterial biofilm formation. A widely used biomaterial in clinical care, expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), infused with various perfluorocarbon liquids generated SLIPS surfaces that exhibited a 99% reduction in S. aureus adhesion with preservation of macrophage viability, phagocytosis, and bactericidal function. Notably, SLIPS modification of ePTFE prevents device infection after S. aureus challenge in vivo, while eliciting a significantly attenuated innate immune response. SLIPS-modified implants also decrease macrophage inflammatory cytokine expression in vitro, which likely contributed to the presence of a thinner fibrous capsule in the absence of bacterial challenge. SLIPS is an easily implementable technology that provides a promising approach to substantially reduce the risk of device infection and associated patient morbidity, as well as health care costs.

Juthani N, Howell C, Ledoux H, Sotiri I, Kelso S, Kovalenko Y, Tajik A, Vu TL, Lin JJ, Sutton A, et al. Infused polymers for cell sheet release. Scientific Reports. 2016;6 (1) :26109. Full TextAbstract

Tissue engineering using whole, intact cell sheets has shown promise in many cell-based therapies. However, current systems for the growth and release of these sheets can be expensive to purchase or difficult to fabricate, hindering their widespread use. Here, we describe a new approach to cell sheet release surfaces based on silicone oil-infused polydimethylsiloxane. By coating the surfaces with a layer of fibronectin (FN), we were able to grow mesenchymal stem cells to densities comparable to those of tissue culture polystyrene controls (TCPS). Simple introduction of oil underneath an edge of the sheet caused it to separate from the substrate. Characterization of sheets post-transfer showed that they retain their FN layer and morphology, remain highly viable, and are able to grow and proliferate normally after transfer. We expect that this method of cell sheet growth and detachment may be useful for low-cost, flexible, and customizable production of cellular layers for tissue engineering.

Sunny S, Cheng G, Daniel D, Lo P, Ochoa S, Howell C, Vogel N, Majid A, Aizenberg J. Transparent antifouling material for improved operative field visibility in endoscopy. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 2016;113 (42) :11676-11681.Abstract

Inspection devices are frequently occluded by highly contaminating fluids that disrupt the visual field and their effective operation. These issues are particularly striking in endoscopes, where the diagnosis and treatment of diseases are compromised by the obscuring of the operative field by body fluids. Here we demonstrate that the application of a liquid-infused surface coating strongly repels sticky biological secretions and enables an uninterrupted field of view. Extensive bronchoscopy procedures performed in vivo on a porcine model shows significantly reduced fouling, resulting in either unnecessary or ∼10–15 times shorter and less intensive lens clearing procedures compared with an untreated endoscope.

Camera-guided instruments, such as endoscopes, have become an essential component of contemporary medicine. The 15–20 million endoscopies performed every year in the United States alone demonstrate the tremendous impact of this technology. However, doctors heavily rely on the visual feedback provided by the endoscope camera, which is routinely compromised when body fluids and fogging occlude the lens, requiring lengthy cleaning procedures that include irrigation, tissue rubbing, suction, and even temporary removal of the endoscope for external cleaning. Bronchoscopies are especially affected because they are performed on delicate tissue, in high-humidity environments with exposure to extremely adhesive biological fluids such as mucus and blood. Here, we present a repellent, liquid-infused coating on an endoscope lens capable of preventing vision loss after repeated submersions in blood and mucus. The material properties of the coating, including conformability, mechanical adhesion, transparency, oil type, and biocompatibility, were optimized in comprehensive in vitro and ex vivo studies. Extensive bronchoscopy procedures performed in vivo on porcine lungs showed significantly reduced fouling, resulting in either unnecessary or ∼10–15 times shorter and less intensive lens clearing procedures compared with an untreated endoscope. We believe that the material developed in this study opens up opportunities in the design of next-generation endoscopes that will improve visual field, display unprecedented antibacterial and antifouling properties, reduce the duration of the procedure, and enable visualization of currently unreachable parts of the body, thus offering enormous potential for disease diagnosis and treatment.

MacCallum N, Howell C, Kim P, Sun D, Friedlander R, Ranisau J, Ahanotu O, Lin JJ, Vena A, Hatton B, et al. Liquid-Infused Silicone As a Biofouling-Free Medical Material. ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2015;1 (1) :43-51.Abstract
There is a dire need for infection prevention strategies that do not require the use of antibiotics, which exacerbate the rise of multi- and pan-drug resistant infectious organisms. An important target in this area is the bacterial attachment and subsequent biofilm formation on medical devices (e.g., catheters). Here we describe nonfouling, lubricant-infused slippery polymers as proof-of-concept medical materials that are based on oil-infused polydimethylsiloxane (iPDMS). Planar and tubular geometry silicone substrates can be infused with nontoxic silicone oil to create a stable, extremely slippery interface that exhibits exceptionally low bacterial adhesion and prevents biofilm formation. Analysis of a flow culture of Pseudomonas aeruginosa through untreated PDMS and iPDMS tubing shows at least an order of magnitude reduction of biofilm formation on iPDMS, and almost complete absence of biofilm on iPDMS after a gentle water rinse. The iPDMS materials can be applied as a coating on other polymers or prepared by simply immersing silicone tubing in silicone oil, and are compatible with traditional sterilization methods. As a demonstration, we show the preparation of silicone-coated polyurethane catheters and significant reduction of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilm formation on the catheter surface. This work represents an important first step toward a simple and effective means of preventing bacterial adhesion on a wide range of materials used for medical devices.
Howell C, Vu TL, Johnson CP, Hou X, Ahanotu O, Alvarenga J, Leslie DC, Uzun O, Waterhouse A, Kim P, et al. Stability of Surface-Immobilized Lubricant Interfaces under Flow. Chem. Mater. 2015;27 (5) :1792-1800. Full TextAbstract
The stability and longevity of surface-stabilized lubricant layers is a critical question in their application as low- and nonfouling slippery surface treatments in both industry and medicine. Here, we investigate lubricant loss from surfaces under flow in water using both quantitative analysis and visualization, testing the effects of underlying surface type (nanostructured versus flat), as well as flow rate in the physiologically relevant range, lubricant type, and time. We find lubricant losses on the order of only ng/cm2 in a closed system, indicating that these interfaces are relatively stable under the flow conditions tested. No notable differences emerged between surface type, flow rate, lubricant type, or time. However, exposure of the lubricant layers to an air/water interface did significantly increase the amount of lubricant removed from the surface, leading to disruption of the layer. These results may help in the development and design of materials using surface-immobilized lubricant interfaces for repellency under flow conditions.
Tesler AB, Kim P, Kolle S, Howell C, Ahanotu O, Aizenberg J. Extremely durable biofouling-resistant metallic surfaces based on electrodeposited nanoporous tungstite films on steel. Nat. Commun. 2015;6 :8649. Full TextAbstract
Formation of unwanted deposits on steels during their interaction with liquids is an inherent problem that often leads to corrosion, biofouling and results in reduction in durability and function. Here we report a new route to form anti-fouling steel surfaces by electrodeposition of nanoporous tungsten oxide (TO) films. TO-modified steels are as mechanically durable as bare steel and highly tolerant to compressive and tensile stresses due to chemical bonding to the substrate and island-like morphology. When inherently superhydrophilic TO coatings are converted to superhydrophobic, they remain non-wetting even after impingement with yttria-stabilized-zirconia particles, or exposure to ultraviolet light and extreme temperatures. Upon lubrication, these surfaces display omniphobicity against highly contaminating media retaining hitherto unseen mechanical durability. To illustrate the applicability of such a durable coating in biofouling conditions, we modified naval construction steels and surgical instruments and demonstrated significantly reduced marine algal film adhesion, Escherichia coli attachment and blood staining.
Leslie DC, Waterhouse A, Berthet JB, Valentin TM, Watters AL, Jain A, Kim P, Hatton BD, Nedder A, Donovan K, et al. A bioinspired omniphobic surface coating on medical devices prevents thrombosis and biofouling. Nature Biotechnology. 2014;32 (11) :1134-1140. Full TextAbstract

Thrombosis and biofouling of extracorporeal circuits and indwelling medical devices cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. We apply a bioinspired, omniphobic coating to tubing and catheters and show that it completely repels blood and suppresses biofilm formation. The coating is a covalently tethered, flexible molecular layer of perfluorocarbon, which holds a thin liquid film of medical-grade perfluorocarbon on the surface. This coating prevents fibrin attachment, reduces platelet adhesion and activation, suppresses biofilm formation and is stable under blood flow in vitro. Surface-coated medical-grade tubing and catheters, assembled into arteriovenous shunts and implanted in pigs, remain patent for at least 8 h without anticoagulation. This surface-coating technology could reduce the use of anticoagulants in patients and help to prevent thrombotic occlusion and biofouling of medical devices.

Sunny S, Vogel N, Howell C, Vu TL, Aizenberg J. Lubricant-infused Nanoparticulate Coatings Assembled by Layer-by-layer Deposition. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2014;24 (42) :6658-6667.Abstract

Omniphobic coatings are designed to repel a wide range of liquids without leaving stains on the surface. A practical coating should exhibit stable repel- lency, show no interference with color or transparency of the underlying substrate and, ideally, be deposited in a simple process on arbitrarily shaped surfaces. We use layer-by-layer (LbL) deposition of negatively charged silica nanoparticles and positively charged polyelectrolytes to create nanoscale sur- face structures that are further surface-functionalized with fluorinated silanes and infiltrated with fluorinated oil, forming a smooth, highly repellent coating on surfaces of different materials and shapes. We show that four or more
LbL cycles introduce sufficient surface roughness to effectively immobilize the lubricant into the nanoporous coating and provide a stable liquid inter- face that repels water, low-surface-tension liquids and complex fluids. The absence of hierarchical structures and the small size of the silica nanoparti- cles enables complete transparency of the coating, with light transmittance exceeding that of normal glass. The coating is mechanically robust, maintains its repellency after exposure to continuous flow for several days and prevents adsorption of streptavidin as a model protein. The LbL process is conceptu- ally simple, of low cost, environmentally benign, scalable, automatable and therefore may present an efficient synthetic route to non-fouling materials.

Howell C, Vu TL, Lin JJ, Kolle S, Juthani N, Watson E, Weaver JC, Alvarenga J, Aizenberg J. Self-Replenishing Vascularized Fouling-Release Surfaces. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces. 2014;6 (15) :13299-13307. Full TextAbstract

Inspired by the long-term effectiveness of living
antifouling materials, we have developed a method for the self-
replenishment of synthetic biofouling-release surfaces. These
surfaces are created by either molding or directly embedding
3D vascular systems into polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and
filling them with a silicone oil to generate a nontoxic oil-
infused material. When replenished with silicone oil from an
outside source, these materials are capable of self-lubrication
and continuous renewal of the interfacial fouling-release layer.
Under accelerated lubricant loss conditions, fully infused vascularized samples retained significantly more lubricant than equivalent nonvascularized controls. Tests of lubricant-infused PDMS in static cultures of the infectious bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli as well as the green microalgae Botryococcus braunii, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Dunaliella salina, and Nannochloropsis oculata showed a significant reduction in biofilm adhesion compared to PDMS and glass controls containing no lubricant. Further experiments on vascularized versus nonvascularized samples that had been subjected to accelerated lubricant evaporation conditions for up to 48 h showed significantly less biofilm adherence on the vascularized surfaces. These results demonstrate the ability of an embedded lubricant-filled vascular network to improve the longevity of fouling-release surfaces.