The Molecular Mechanisms of the Antibacterial Effect of Picosecond Laser Generated Silver Nanoparticles and Their Toxicity to Human Cells

Peri Korshed, Lin Li, Zhu Liu, Tao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) are known to have antibacterial properties. They are commonly produced by chemical synthesis which involves the use of harmful reducing agents. Contras, the laser technique is able to generate high-purity Ag NPs in water with specified surface charge characteristics. In the past, the molecular mechanisms contributing to the bactericidal effects of Ag NPs have been investigated extensively, but little is known of the antibacterial and toxic effects and mechanisms involved in laser-generated Ag NPs. In the current study Ag NPs were generated by picosecond laser ablation. Their antibacterial activity was determined on the gram-negative bacteria E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and the gram positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus including the methicillin resistant strain MRSA. Results showed that the laser generated Ag NPs exhibited strong dose-dependent antibacterial activity against all the three bacterial strains tested. Using E.coli as a model system, the laser Ag NPs treatment induced significantly high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS did not include detectable hydroxyl radicals, suggesting for the first time the selective ROS induction in bacterial cells by laser generated Ag NPs. The increased ROS was accompanied by significantly reduced cellular glutathione, and increased lipid peroxidation and permeability, suggesting ROS related bacterial cell damage. The laser generated Ag NPs exhibited low toxicity (within 72 hours) to five types of human cells although a weak significant decrease in cell survival was observed for endothelial cells and the lung cells. We conclude that picosecond laser generated Ag NPs have a broad spectrum of antibacterial effects against microbes including MRSA with minimal human cell toxicity. The oxidative stress is likely the key mechanism underlying the bactericidal effect, which leads to lipid peroxidation, depletion of glutathione, DNA damages and eventual disintegration of the cell membrane.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS One.
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2016

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