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Enhancement of antibiotic effect via gold:silver-alloy nanoparticles


A strategy for the development of novel antimicrobials is to combine the stability and pleiotropic effects of inorganic compounds with the specificity and efficiency of organic compounds, such as antibiotics. Here we report on the use of gold:silver-alloy (Au:Ag-alloy) nanoparticles, obtained via a single-step citrate co-reduction method, combined to conventional antibiotics to enhance their antimicrobial effect on bacteria. Addition of the alloy nanoparticles considerably decreased the dose of antibiotic necessary to show antimicrobial effect, both for bacterial cells growing in rich medium in suspension and for bacterial cells resting in a physiological buffer on a humid cellulose surface. The observed effect was more pronounced than the sum of the individual effects of the nanoparticles and antibiotic. We demonstrate the enhancement effect of Au:Ag-alloy nanoparticles with a size distribution of 32.5 ± 7.5 nm mean diameter on the antimicrobial effect of (i) kanamycin on Escherichia coli (Gram-negative bacterium), and (ii) a β-lactam antibiotic on both a sensitive and resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus (Gram-positive bacterium). Together, these results may pave the way for the combined use of nanoparticle–antibiotic conjugates towards decreasing antibiotic resistance currently observed for certain bacteria and conventional antibiotics.

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We thank Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (MCTES) for financial support: CIGMH, PTDC/CTM/NAN/109877/2009, PTDC/QUI–QUI/112597/2009 and Ciência 2007 Program. de Lencastre H is acknowledged for kindly providing S. aureus COL.

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Correspondence to Margarida Moreira dos Santos.

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dos Santos, M.M., Queiroz, M.J. & Baptista, P.V. Enhancement of antibiotic effect via gold:silver-alloy nanoparticles. J Nanopart Res 14, 859 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11051-012-0859-8

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  • Gold:silver-alloy nanoparticles
  • Antibiotic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Gram-negative bacteria
  • E. coli
  • S. aureus