Silver Nanoparticles in Wound Infections: Present Status and Future Prospects

  • Hanna DahmEmail author


The wounds are infected by one or more bacteria or other microbes. The occurrence of the bacterial infections in wounds is mainly responsible in delayed healing and enhancement of wound. These bacteria include Gram-positive bacteria such as Streptococcus pyogenes, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Gram-negative bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella species, and fungi like Candida and Aspergillus. The use of silver has been known since nineteenth century and after the discovery of penicillin, its use was reduced. However, the occurrence of multidrug-resistant bacteria has led to the search of new antibiotics and alternatives to solve the problem of multidrug-resistance. In this context, scientists have shown much interest on the use of silver and silver nanoparticles as they are very effective against bacterial infections.

This chapter is aimed to discuss the role of silver and silver nanoparticles in wound infections. In addition, the resistance of microbes to silver and silver nanoparticles and the toxicity issues have also been addressed.


Wounds Silver Silver nanoparticles Bacteria Fungi Resistance Toxicity 


  1. Ahmadi M, Adibhesami M (2017) The effect of silver nanoparticles on wounds contaminated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa in mice: an experimental study. Iran J Pharm Res 16(2):661–669PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Alavi M, Rai M (2019) Recent advances in antibacterial applications of metal nanoparticles (MNPs) and metal nanocomposites (MNCs) against multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria. Expert Rev Anti-Infect Ther 17(6):419–428. Scholar
  3. Atiyeh BS, Costagliola M, Hayek SN, Dibo SA (2007) Effect of silver on burn wound infection control and healing: review of literature. Burns 33:139–148PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ayton M (1985) Wound care: wounds that won’t heal. Nurs Times 81(46):16–19Google Scholar
  5. Barillo DJ, Marx DE (2014) Silver in medicine: a brief history BC 335 to present. Burns 40:3–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bawskar MS, Deshmukh SD, Bansod S, Gade AK, Rai MK (2015) Comparative analysis of biosynthesised and chemosynthesised silver nanoparticles with special reference to their antibacterial activity against pathogens. IET Nanobiotechnol 9(3):107–113PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Birla SS, Tiwari VV, Gade AK, Ingle AP, Yadav AP, Rai MK (2009) Fabrication of silver nanoparticles by Phoma glomerata and its combined effect against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Lett Appl Microbiol 48(2):173–179PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bonde SR, Rathod DP, Ingle AP, Ade RB, Gade AK, Rai MK (2012) Murraya koenigii-mediated synthesis of silver nanoparticles and its activity against three human pathogenic bacteria. Nanosci Methods 1:25–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowler PG (1998) The anaerobic and aerobic microbiology of wounds: A review. Wounds 10(6):170–178Google Scholar
  10. Bowler P, Duerden B, Armstrong D (2001) Wound microbiology and associated approaches to wound management. Clin Microbiol Rev 14(2):244–269PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Braydich-Stolle L, Hussain S, Schlager JJ, Hofmann MC (2005) In vitro cytotoxicity of nanoparticles in mammalian gemline stem cells. Toxicol Sci 88(2):412–419PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bridges K, Kidson A, Lowbury EJ et al (1979) Gentamicin—and silver—resistant Pseudomonas in a burns unit. Br Med J 1:446–449PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burd A, Kwok CH, Hung SC, Chan HS, Gu H, Lam WK, Huang L (2007) A comparative study of the cytotoxicity of silver-based dressings in monolayer cell, tissue explant, and animal models. Wound Repair Regen 15:94–104PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Burrell RE (2003) A scientific perspective on the use of topical silver preparations. Ostomy Wound Manage 49(Suppl. 5A):19–24PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Calvin M (1998) Cutaneous wound repair. Wounds 10(1):12–32Google Scholar
  16. Chopra I (2007) The increasing use of silver-based products as antimicrobial agents: a useful development or a cause for concern? J Antimicrob Chemother 59:587–590PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chu CS, McManus AT, Pruitt BA Jr, Mason AD Jr (1988) Therapeutic effects of silver nylon dressings with weak current on Pseudomonas aeruginosa—infected burn wounds. J Trauma 28:1488–1492PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chu CS, McManus AT, Okerberg CV, Mason AD Jr, Pruitt BA Jr (1991) Weak direct current accelerates split-thickness graft healing on tangentially excised second degree burns. J Burn Care Rehabil 12:285–293PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chu CS, Matylevich NP, McManus AT, Masson AD Jr, Pruitt BA Jr (1996) Direct current reduces wound edema after full thickness burn injury in rats. J Trauma 40(5):738–742PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Collier M (2004) Recognition and management of wound infection. J World Wide WoundsGoogle Scholar
  21. Dunn K, Edwards-Jones V (2004) The role of Acticoat with nanocrystalline silver in the management of burns. Burns 30:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fakhry SM, Alexander J, Smith D, Meyer AA, Petterson HD (1995) Regional and institutional variation in burn care. J Burn Care Rehabil 16:86–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Falanga V, Grinnell F, Gilchrest B, Maddox YT, Moshell A (1994) Workshop on the pathogenesis of chronic wounds. J Invest Dermatol 102(1):125–127PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Feng QL, Wu J, Chen GQ, Cui FZ, Kim TN, Kim JO (2000) A mechanistic study of the antibacterial effect of silver ions on Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. J Biomed Mater Res 52(4):662–668PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fong J, Wood F, Fowler BA (2005) A silver coated dressing reduces the incidence of early burn wound cellulitis and associated costs of inpatient treatment: comparative patient care audits. Burns 31(5):562–567PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fox CL (1968) Silver sulfadiazine—a new topical agent. Arch Surg 96:184–188PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fox CL, Stanford JW (1971) Anti-bacterial action of silver sulphadiazine and DNA binding. In: Matter P, Barcaly TL, Konikova Z (eds) Research in burns. Huber, Bern, pp 133–138Google Scholar
  28. Franci G, Falanga A, Galdiero S, Palomba L, Rai M, Morelli G, Galdiero M (2015) Silver nanoparticles as potential antibacterial agents. Molecules 20:8856–8874. Scholar
  29. Gajbhiye M, Kesharwani J, Ingle A, Gade A, Rai M (2009) Fungal-mediated synthesis of silver nanoparticles and their activity against pathogenic fungi in combination with fluconazole. Nanomedicine 5(4):382–386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gamelli RL, Paxton TP, O’Reilly M (1993) Bone marrow toxicity by silver sulphadiazine. Surg Gynec Obstet 177:115–120PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Jiang B, Larson JC, Drapala PW, Perez-Luna VH, Kang-Mieler JJ, Brey EM (2012) Investigation of lysine acrylate containing poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) hydrogels as wound dressings in normal and infected wounds. J Biomed Mater Res 100:668–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Karkman A, Katariina P, Joakim Larsson DG (2019) Fecal pollution can explain antibiotic resistance gene abundances in anthropogenically impacted environments. Nat Commun 0:80. Scholar
  33. Kedi PBE, Meva FE, Kotsedi L, Nguemfo EL, Zangueu CB, Ntoumba AA, Mohamed HEA, Dongmo AB, Maaza M (2018) Eco-friendly synthesis, characterization, in vitro and in vivo anti-inflammatory activity of silvernanoparticle-mediated Selaginella myosurus aqueous extract. Int J Nanomedicine 12(13):8537–8548. Scholar
  34. Kingsley A (2001) A proactive approach to wound infection. Nurs Stand 15(30):50–54, 56, 58PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kirsner R, Orsted H, Wright B (2001) Matrix metalloproteinases in normal and impaired wound healing: a potential role of nanocrystaline silver. Wounds 13:5–10Google Scholar
  36. Klasen HJ (2000) A historical review of the use of silver in the treatment of burns. Part I early uses. Burns 30:1–9Google Scholar
  37. Klueh U, Wagner V, Kelly S, Johnson A, Bryers JD (2000) Efficacy of silver coated fabric to prevent bacterial colonization and subsequent device-based biofilm formation. J Biomed Mater Res 53:621–631PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lansdown ABG (2006) Silver in health care: antimicrobial effects and safety in use. Cuur Probl Dermatol 33:17–34. In: Biofunctional Textiles and the Skin, Hipler U.C., Elsner P. (eds)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lansdown ABG (2010) Silver in health and disease. Its antimicrobial efficacy and safety in use. Royal Society of Chemistry, LondonGoogle Scholar
  40. Li XZ, Nikaido H, Williams KE (1997) Silver-resistant mutants of Escherichia coli display active efflux of Ag+ and are deficient in porins. J Bacteriol 179:6127–6132PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Liau SY, Read DC, Pugh WJ, Furr JR, Russel AD (1997) Interaction of silver-nitrate with readily identiflabe groups-relationship to the antibacterial action of silver ions. Lett Appl Microbiol 25:279–283PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Liu X, Lee P, Ch H, Lui V, Chen Y, Ch C, Tam P, Wong KY (2010) Silver nanoparticles mediate differential responses in keratinocytes and fibroblasts during skin wound healing. ChemMedChem 5(3):468–475PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McHugh GL, Moellering RC, Hopkins CC et al (1975) Salmonella typhimurium resistant to silver nitrate, chloramphenicol and ampicillin. Lancet 1:235–240PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mooney EK (2006) Silver dressings (safety and efficacy reports). Plast Reconstr Surg 117(2):666–669PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Moyer CA, Brentano L, Gravens DL, Margraf HW, Monafo WW (1965) Treatment of large human burns with 0.5% silver nitrate solution. Arch Surg 90:812–867PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nadworny PL, Wang JF, Tredget EE, Burrell RE (2010) Anti-inflammatory activity of nanocrystalline silver-derived solutions in porcine contact dermatitis. J Inflam 7:20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nam G, Rangasamy S, Purushothaman B, Song JM (2015) The application of bactericidal silver nanoparticles in wound treatment. Nanomater Nanotechnol 5:23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pal S, Tak YK, Song JM (2007) Does the antibacterial activity of silver nanoparticles depend on the shape of the nanoparticle? A study of the gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli. Appl Environ Microbiol 73(6):1712–1720PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Poon VKM, Burd A (2004) In vitro cytotoxity of silver: implication for clinical wound care. Burns 30:140–147PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Prabhu S, Poulose EK (2012) Silver nanoparticles: mechanism of antimicrobial action, synthesis, medical application, and toxicity effects. Int Nano Lett 2:32–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rai MK, Yadav AP, Gade AK (2009) Silver nanoparticles as a new generation of antimicrobials. Biotechnol Adv 27(1):76–83PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rai MK, Deshmukh SD, Ingle AP, Gade AK (2012) Silver nanoparticles: powerful nanoweapon against multidrug-resistant bacteria. Appl Microbiol 112:841–852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Robson MC (1997) Wound infection. A failure of wound healing caused by an imbalance of bacteria. Surg Clin N Am 77:637–650PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Shrivastava S, Bera T, Poy A, Singh G, Ramachandrarao P, Dash D (2007) Characterisation of enhanced antibacterial effects of novel silver nanoparticles. Nanotechnology 18:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Singh J, Dutta T, Kim K, Rawat M, Samddar P, Kumar P (2018) Green’ synthesis of metals and their oxide nanoparticles: applications for environmental remediation. J Nanobiotechnol 16:84. Scholar
  56. Stanford W, Rappole BW, Fox Jr CL (1969) Clinical experience with silver sulfadiazine, a new topical agent for control of pseudomonas infection in burn patients. J Trauma 9(5):377–388Google Scholar
  57. Tian J, Wong KK, Ho CM, Lok CN, Yu WY, Che CM et al (2007) Topical delivery of silver nanoparticles promotes wound healing. ChemMedChem 2:129–136PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tredget EE, Shankowsky HA, Groeneveld A, Burrell R (1998) A matched – pair, randomized study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Acticoat silver – coated dressing for the treatment of burn wounds. J Burn Care Rehabil 19:531–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Venkataraman M, Nagarsenker M (2013) Silver sulfadiazine nanosystems for burn therapy. AAPS PharmSciTech 14(1):254–264. Scholar
  60. Warriner R, Burrell R (2005) Infection and the chronic wound: a focus on silver. Adv Skin Wound Care 18(8):2–12PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wright JB, Lam K, Hansen D, Burrell RE (1999) Efficacy of topical silver against fungal burn wound pathogens. Am J Inf Control 27(4):344–350PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wright J, Lam K, Buret A, Olson M, Burrell R (2002) Early healing events in a porcine model of contaminated wounds: effects of nanocrystalline silver on matrix matalloproteinases, cell apoptosis, and healing. Wound Repair Regeneration, 10:141PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wu J, Zheng Y, Song W, Luan J, Wen X, Wu Z, Chen X, Wang Q, Guo S (2014) In situ synthesis of silver-nanoparticles/bacterial cellulose composites for slow-released antimicrobial wound dressing. Carbohydr Polym 102:762–771PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wu S, Huang J, Zhang F, Qingping W, Zhang J, Pang R, Zeng H, Yang X, Chen M, Wang J, Dai J, Xue L, Lei T, Wei X (2019) Prevalence and characterization of food-related methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in China. Front Microbiol 10:304. Scholar
  65. Wypij M, Świecimska M, Czarnecka J, Dahm H, Rai M, Golińska P (2018) Antimicrobial and cytotoxic activity of silver nanoparticles synthesized from two haloalkaliphilic actinobacterial strains alone and in combination with antibiotics. Appl Microbiol 124:1411–1424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Yin HQ, Langford R, Burrell RE (1999) Comparative evaluation of the antimicrobial activity of ACTICOAT antimicrobial barrier dressing. J Burn Care Rehabil 20:195–200PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyNicolaus Copernicus UniversityTorunPoland

Personalised recommendations