AbstractThe use of magnesium alloys as degradable metals for biomedical applications is a topic of ongoing research and the demand for multifunctional materials is increasing. Hence, binary Mg-Ag alloys were designed as implant materials to combine the favourable properties of magnesium with the well-known antibacterial property of silver. In this study, three Mg-Ag alloys, Mg2Ag, Mg4Ag and Mg6Ag that contain 1.87 %, 3.82 % and 6.00 % silver by weight, respectively, were cast and processed with solution (T4) and aging (T6) heat treatment.
The metallurgical analysis and phase identification showed that all alloys contained Mg4Ag as the dominant β phase. After heat treatment, the mechanical properties of all Mg-Ag alloys were significantly improved and the corrosion rate was also significantly reduced, due to presence of silver. Mg(OH)2 and MgO present the main magnesium corrosion products, while AgCl was found as the corresponding primary silver corrosion product. Immersion tests, under cell culture conditions, demonstrated that the silver content did not significantly shift the pH and magnesium ion release. In vitro tests, with both primary osteoblasts and cell lines (MG63, RAW 264.7), revealed that Mg-Ag alloys show negligible cytotoxicity and sound cytocompatibility. Antibacterial assays, performed in a dynamic bioreactor system, proved that the alloys reduce the viability of two common pathogenic bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (DSMZ 20231) and Staphylococcus epidermidis (DSMZ 3269), and the results showed that the killing rate of the alloys against tested bacteria exceeded 90%. In summary, biodegradable Mg-Ag alloys are cytocompatible materials with adjustable mechanical and corrosion properties and show promising antibacterial activity, which indicates their potential as antibacterial biodegradable implant materials.