A multifunctional dexamethasone-delivery implant fabricated using atmospheric plasma and its effects on apoptosis, osteogenesis and inflammation


Implant-based local drug delivery is a unique surgical therapy with many clinical advantages. Atmospheric pressure plasma is a novel non-thermal surface biotechnology that has only recently been applied in enhancing a surgical implant. We are the first to use this technology to successfully create a dexamethasone-delivery metallic implant. Irrespective of the loaded medication, the surface of this novel implant possesses advantageous material features including homogeneity, hydrophilicity, and optimal roughness. UV-vis spectroscopy revealed much more sustainable drug release compared to the implants produced using simple drug attachment. In addition, our drug-releasing implant was found to have multiple biological benefits. As proven by the ELISA data, this multi-layer drug complex provides differential regulation on the cell apoptosis, as well as pro-osteogenic and anti-inflammatory effects on the peri-implant tissue. Furthermore, using the pathway-specific PCR array, our study discovered 28 and 26 upregulated and downregulated genes during osteogenesis and inflammation on our newly fabricated drug-delivery implant, respectively. The medication-induced change in molecular profile serves as a promising clue for designing future implant-based therapy. Collectively, we present atmospheric pressure plasma as a potent tool for creating a surgical implant-based drug-delivery system, which renders multiple therapeutic potentials.

Schematic of the APP-facilitated Dex-delivery implant. This layer-by-layer drug-releasing complex consisted of bottom plasma activation layer, middle medication layer, and top absorbable polymer layer.

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The authors wish to thank Professor Denis Dowling in UCD Centre for Biomedical Engineering and experts in the National Centre for Plasma Science & Technology.


This work was sponsored by the Shanghai Pujiang Program (project no. 19PJ1408800). It was initiated by Science Foundation Ireland and Shanghai East Hospital.

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Correspondence to Fei Tan.

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Tan, F., Al-Rubeai, M. A multifunctional dexamethasone-delivery implant fabricated using atmospheric plasma and its effects on apoptosis, osteogenesis and inflammation. Drug Deliv. and Transl. Res. 11, 86–102 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13346-019-00700-8

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  • Atmospheric plasma
  • Dexamethasone
  • Implant
  • Drug delivery
  • Apoptosis
  • Osteogenesis
  • Inflammation
  • Osteoblast
  • Macrophage
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Head and neck surgery