Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10418–10433 | Cite as

Biogenic synthesis of gold nanoparticles from Terminalia arjuna bark extract: assessment of safety aspects and neuroprotective potential via antioxidant, anticholinesterase, and antiamyloidogenic effects

  • Natarajan Suganthy
  • Vijayan Sri Ramkumar
  • Arivalagan Pugazhendhi
  • Giovanni Benelli
  • Govindaraju Archunan
Plant-borne compounds and nanoparticles: challenges for medicine, parasitology and entomology


The development of neuroprotective drugs through eco-friendly production routes is a major challenge for current pharmacology. The present study was carried out to synthesize gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) through biogenic route using ethanolic bark extract of Terminalia arjuna, a plant of high interest in Asian traditional medicine, and to evaluate its neuroprotective effects. The synthesized AuNPs were characterized by UV-Vis spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, XRD, FESEM, EDX, HRTEM, DLS, and zeta potential analyses. UV-Vis spectroscopy showed a characteristics SPR absorption band at 536 nm specific for AuNPs. XRD, TEM, and FESEM analyses revealed the formation of face-centered cubic crystalline, spherical and triangular shaped AuNPs, with size ranging between 20 and 50 nm. DLS and ZP analysis illustrated that the average size of AuNPs was 30 nm, which was found to be stable at 45 mv. The neuroprotective potential of AuNPs was evaluated by assessing its antioxidant, cholinesterase inhibitory, and antiamyloidogenic activities. AuNPs showed dose-dependant inhibition of acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase with IC50 value of 4.25 ± 0.02 and 5.05 ± 0.02 μg/ml, respectively. In vitro antioxidant assays illustrated that AuNPs exhibited the highest reducing power and DPPH radical scavenging activity. In addition, AuNPs also efficiently suppressed the fibrillation of Aβ and destabilized the preformed mature fibrils. Results of toxicity studies in PBMC and adult zebra fish illustrated that AuNPs are non-toxic and biocompatible. Overall, our results highlighted the AuNPs promising potential in terms of antioxidant, anticholinesterase, antiamyloidogenic effects, and non-lethality allowing us to propose these nanomaterials as a suitable candidate for the development of drugs helpful in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Graphical abstract


Alzheimer’s disease Gold nanocrystals Cholinesterase β-Amyloid peptide Danio rerio 



Dr. N.S and Dr. V.S.R thank University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India, for the financial support through Dr. D.S. Kothari Post Doctoral Fellowship Scheme [No. F.4-2/2006(BSR)/BL/13-14/0345 and F.4-2/2006(BSR)/BL/13-14/0312], Prof. GA acknowledges with thanks to University Grants Commission, New Delhi for the award of UGC-BSR Faculty Fellow. The authors are thankful to the authorities of Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, UGC-SAP-II and DST-PURSE for providing instrument facilities to carry out this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_9789_Fig8_ESM.gif (39 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1

(GIF 39 kb).

11356_2017_9789_MOESM1_ESM.tif (26.1 mb)
High resolution image (TIFF 26730 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natarajan Suganthy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vijayan Sri Ramkumar
    • 3
  • Arivalagan Pugazhendhi
    • 4
  • Giovanni Benelli
    • 5
    • 6
  • Govindaraju Archunan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Nanoscience and TechnologyAlagappa UniversityKaraikudiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Pheromone Technology, Department of Animal ScienceBharadhidasan UniversityTiruchirappalliIndia
  3. 3.Department of Environmental BiotechnologyBharathidasan UniversityTiruchirappalliIndia
  4. 4.Green Processing, Bioremediation and Alternative Energies Research Group, Faculty of Environment and Labour SafetyTon Duc Thang UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  5. 5.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  6. 6.The BioRobotics InstituteScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly

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