In vitro models for studying implant-associated biofilms - A review from the perspective of bioengineering 3D microenvironments

Silvia Cometta, Dietmar W. Hutmacher*, Liraz Chai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biofilm research has grown exponentially over the last decades, arguably due to their contribution to hospital acquired infections when they form on foreign body surfaces such as catheters and implants. Yet, translation of the knowledge acquired in the laboratory to the clinic has been slow and/or often it is not attempted by research teams to walk the talk of what is defined as ‘bench to bedside’. We therefore reviewed the biofilm literature to better understand this gap. Our search revealed substantial development with respect to adapting surfaces and media used in models to mimic the clinical settings, however many of the in vitro models were too simplistic, often discounting the composition and properties of the host microenvironment and overlooking the biofilm-implant-host interactions. Failure to capture the physiological growth conditions of biofilms in vivo results in major differences between lab-grown- and clinically-relevant biofilms, particularly with respect to phenotypic profiles, virulence, and antimicrobial resistance, and they essentially impede bench-to-bedside translatability. In this review, we describe the complexity of the biological processes at the biofilm-implant-host interfaces, discuss the prerequisite for the development and characterization of biofilm models that better mimic the clinical scenario, and propose an interdisciplinary outlook of how to bioengineer biofilms in vitro by converging tissue engineering concepts and tools.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number122578
StatePublished - Sep 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors


  • Biofilm
  • Implant
  • In vitro model
  • Infection


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