, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 7275-7285

Interaction of erythromycin ethylsuccinate and acetaminophen with protein fraction of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) from various bacterial aggregates

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Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are, along with microbial cells, the main components of the biological sludges used in wastewater treatment and natural biofilms. EPS play a major role in removing pollutants from water by means of sorption. The ability of soluble EPS (S-EPS) and bound EPS (B-EPS) derived from various bacterial aggregates (flocs, granules, biofilms) to bind at pH 7.0 ± 0.1 to two pharmaceutical substances, acetaminophen (ACE) and erythromycin ethylsuccinate (ERY), has been investigated using the fluorescence quenching method. Two intense fluorescence peaks, A (Ex/Em range, 200–250/275–380 nm) and B (Ex/Em range, 260–320/275–360 nm), corresponding respectively to the aromatic protein region and soluble microbial by-product-like region, were identified in a three-dimensional excitation-emission matrix of EPS samples. The fluorescence peak, which corresponds to humic-like substances, was also identified though at low intensity. The ability of EPS to bind ACE was found to exceed that for ERY. The aromatic protein fraction of EPS displays a slightly higher affinity for drugs than that shown by the soluble microbial by-product-like fraction. The S-EPS and B-EPS present the same affinity for ACE and ERY. The effective quenching constants (log K) derived from the Stern–Volmer Equation equaled at peak A (with S-EPS): 3.7 ± 0.2 to 4.0 ± 0.1 for ACE and 2.1 ± 0.3 to 2.7 ± 0.1 for ERY. With B-EPS, these values were 3.9 ± 0.1 to 4.0 ± 0.1 for ACE and 2.0 ± 0.2 to 2.6 ± 0.1 for ERY. Our results suggest that the weaker EPS affinity for ERY than for ACE serves to partially explain why only about 50–80 % of ERY is removed from wastewater at the treatment plant. Moreover, this work demonstrates that EPS from natural river biofilms are able to bind drugs, which in turn may limit the mobility of drugs in natural waters.

Responsible editor: Robert Duran