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Silver Nanoparticles Toxicity and Bactericidal Effect Against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Nanoscale Does Matter

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Silver nanoparticles, which are being used increasingly as antimicrobial agents, may extend its antibacterial application to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the main cause of nosocomial infections worldwide. To explore the antibacterial properties of silver nanoparticles against MRSA, the present work includes an analysis of the relation between nanosilver effect and MRSA’s resistance mechanisms, a study of the size dependence of the bactericidal activity of nanosilver and a toxicity assessment of nanoparticles against epithelial human cells. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC), and MBC/MIC ratio of silver nanoparticles were quantified by using a luciferase-based assay. The cytotoxic effect (CC50 and CC90) of three different nanosilver sizes (10, 30–40, and 100 nm) were assessed in HeLa cells by a similar method. The therapeutic index was used as an indicator of nanosilver overall efficacy and safety. Silver nanoparticles inhibited bacterial growth of both MRSA and non-MR S. aureus in a bactericidal rather than a bacteriostatic manner (MBC/MIC ratio ≤ 4). Silver nanoparticle’s therapeutic index varied when nanoparticle’s size diminished. At the same dose range, 10 nm nanoparticles were the most effective since they did not affect HeLa’s cell viability while inhibiting a considerable percentage of MRSA growth. Silver nanoparticles are effective bactericidal agents that are not affected by drug-resistant mechanisms of MRSA. Nanosilver size mediates MRSA inhibition and the cytotoxicity to human cells, being smaller nanoparticles the ones with a better antibacterial activity and nontoxic effect.

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This project was done with the economical support of the Programa de Apoyo a la Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica (PAICyT) of the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

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Correspondence to Nilda Vanesa Ayala-Núñez.

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NV Ayala and HH Lara made equal contributions to this study.

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Ayala-Núñez, N.V., Lara Villegas, H.H., del Carmen Ixtepan Turrent, L. et al. Silver Nanoparticles Toxicity and Bactericidal Effect Against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Nanoscale Does Matter. Nanobiotechnol 5, 2–9 (2009).

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