How This Seafood Could Help Preserve Muscles and Combat Joint Infections After Surgery


Made from mussels, these novel antibiotic-releasing coatings for joint implants could prevent devastating bacterial infections.

The secret to staying strong as you age may be lying at the bottom of the ocean.

Researchers have discovered a way to harness the adhesive power of mussels to help preserve muscle mass and combat joint infections after orthopedic surgery. This innovative solution links the mighty mussel to our muscles, creating a special connection between these two seemingly disparate worlds.

From Sea to Surgery

Periprosthetic infection, a severe complication after joint replacement surgery, involves the formation of a biofilm containing harmful microorganisms around the implant, leading to implant failure and patient morbidity.

While various approaches have been developed to release antibiotics upon infection, existing antibacterial coatings are susceptible to unintended antibiotic leakage or mechanical degradation during implantation.

To address this problem, researchers in South Korea developed a novel solution: a protective coating for joint implants derived from mussel adhesive proteins. This unique material releases antibiotics only in the presence of a bacterial infection, potentially transforming how implant-related infections are treated.

Why Mussels?

Researchers discovered that the bond between iron and an amino acid called DOPA that mussels use to adhere to things weakens in acidic conditions, which are commonly associated with bacterial infections. This discovery paved the way for the development of a special coating that can retain antibiotics under normal circumstances but release them when acidity levels increase due to an infection.

Notably, this coating is designed to release 70 percent of its antibiotics within eight hours of detecting an infection, effectively targeting and eliminating bacteria.

What sets this mussel-inspired coating apart is not only its immediate response to infections but also its durability and effectiveness during the crucial phase of bone regeneration following an implant. This coating remains effective for approximately four weeks, ensuring long-lasting protection.

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Furthermore, the coating’s design ensures that the amount of antibiotics released is directly proportional to the severity of the infection, offering a targeted approach to preventing complications.

The Epoch Times contacted the researchers for comment, but they did not respond.

Welcome News

In 2020, researchers from Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany employed advanced analytical techniques to closely examine the release and accumulation of various metals from joint implants into the surrounding bone tissue.

Their findings revealed a consistent release of metals from multiple components of the implants, contradicting previous assumptions that attributed metal release solely to mechanical stress. Prior studies on implant stability had focused primarily on the friction between articulating surfaces, which can generate metal debris and lead to osteolysis, the deterioration of bone around the implant.

However, the potential for steady metal release from other prosthesis parts did not receive much attention until German researchers highlighted this serious issue.

This brings us back to the important study conducted by Korean researchers and the possibility of addressing numerous challenges associated with joint implants.

The findings are significant for several reasons. After all, the world’s population continues to age each year. By 2030, the United States is expected to have more residents aged 65 and older than children. One of the more concerning aspects of aging involves joint deterioration and rapid muscle loss.

Of course, one needn’t be over 65 to benefit from the study.

Remarkably, in 2021, some 220,000 children in the United States had arthritis. For many suffering from this joint-damaging condition, joint replacement surgery offers a form of relief from inflammation and discomfort.

Thanks to the work of the South Korean scientists, some of the negative aspects associated with joint replacement surgery may now be alleviated.


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