BACKGROUND--Prosthetic infections are a major problem, requiring complex and lengthy management. The role of blood proteins in the pathogenesis of implant infection has been investigated, but research into the role of CSF protein in shunt infections has not been undertaken, even though a high CSF protein has been assumed to increase the risk of such infections. METHODS--New shunt catheters were exposed to either CSF or individual protein solutions, and the numbers of radiolabelled staphylococci that adhered to them were compared with controls that had been exposed to saline only. RESULTS--A significant reduction in bacteria adhering to the test catheter was found in each instance. Furthermore, the CSF with the highest protein content, from a patient with intraventricular haemorrhage, had the greatest inhibitory effect on bacterial adhesion. The effect of the solutions on the hydrophobicity of the silicone rubber was also investigated. The silicone rubber was more hydrophilic, and bacterial adhesion was less, with solutions containing a higher protein content, and these findings were in keeping with the current theories on the mechanism of bacterial adhesion to polymers. CONCLUSIONS--A high CSF protein content does not predispose to the development of shunt infections.
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