Comparison of Methods for Evaluation of the Bactericidal Activity of Copper-Sputtered Surfaces against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Bacteria can survive on hospital textiles and surfaces, from which they can be disseminated, representing a source of health care-associated infections (HCAIs). Surfaces containing copper (Cu), which is known for its bactericidal properties, could be an efficient way to lower the burden of potential pathogens. The antimicrobial activity of Cu-sputtered polyester surfaces, obtained by direct-current magnetron sputtering (DCMS), against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was tested. The Cu-polyester microstructure was characterized by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy to determine the microstructure of the Cu nanoparticles and by profilometry to assess the thickness of the layers. Sputtering at 300 mA for 160 s led to a Cu film thickness of 20 nm (100 Cu layers) containing 0.209% (wt/wt) polyester. The viability of MRSA strain ATCC 43300 on Cu-sputtered polyester was evaluated by four methods: (i) mechanical detachment, (ii) microcalorimetry, (iii) direct transfer onto plates, and (iv) stereomicroscopy. The low efficacy of mechanical detachment impeded bacterial viability estimations. Microcalorimetry provided only semiquantitative results. Direct transfer onto plates and stereomicroscopy seemed to be the most suitable methods to evaluate the bacterial inactivation potential of Cu-sputtered polyester surfaces, since they presented the least experimental bias. Cu-polyester samples sputtered for 160 s by DCMS were further tested against 10 clinical MRSA isolates and showed a high level of bactericidal activity, with a 4-log(10) reduction in the initial MRSA load (10(6) CFU) within 1 h. Cu-sputtered polyester surfaces might be of use to prevent the transmission of HCAI pathogens.