The aim of this work was to study the initial events of Escherichia coli adhesion to polydimethylsiloxane, which is critical for the development of antifouling surfaces.
Patrícia Alves, Joana Maria Moreira, João Mário Miranda, Filipe José Mergulhão
Abstract: The aim of this work was to study the initial events of Escherichia coli adhesion to polydimethylsiloxane, which is critical for the development of antifouling surfaces. A parallel plate flow cell was used to perform the initial adhesion experiments under controlled hydrodynamic conditions (shear rates ranging between 8 and 100/s), mimicking biomedical scenarios. Initial adhesion studies capture more accurately the cell-surface interactions as in later stages, incoming cells may interact with the surface but also with already adhered cells. Adhesion rates were calculated and results shown that after some time (between 5 and 9 min), these rates decreased (by 55% on average), from the initial values for all tested conditions. The common explanation for this decrease is the occurrence of hydrodynamic blocking, where the area behind each adhered cell is screened from incoming cells. This was investigated using a pair correlation map from which two-dimensional histograms showing the density probability function were constructed. The results highlighted a lower density probability (below 4.0 × 10-4) of the presence of cells around a given cell under different shear rates irrespectively of the radial direction. A shadowing area behind the already adhered cells was not observed, indicating that hydrodynamic blocking was not occurring and therefore it could not be the cause for the decreases in cell adhesion rates. Afterward, cell transport rates from the bulk solution to the surface were estimated using the Smoluchowski-Levich approximation and values in the range of 80-170 cells/cm2.s were obtained. The drag forces that adhered cells have to withstand were also estimated and values in the range of 3-50 × 10-14 N were determined. Although mass transport increases with the flow rate, drag forces also increase and the relative importance of these factors may change in different conditions. This work demonstrates that adjustment of operational parameters in initial adhesion experiments may be required to avoid hydrodynamic blocking, in order to obtain reliable data about cell-surface interactions that can be used in the development of more efficient antifouling surfaces.
Keywords: bacterial adhesion; blocking effect; hydrodynamics; parallel plate flow cell.