Self-assembled cationic peptide nanoparticles as an efficient antimicrobial agent

Nat Nanotechnol. 2009 Jul;4(7):457-63. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2009.153. Epub 2009 Jun 28.


Antimicrobial cationic peptides are of interest because they can combat multi-drug-resistant microbes. Most peptides form alpha-helices or beta-sheet-like structures that can insert into and subsequently disintegrate negatively charged bacterial cell surfaces. Here, we show that a novel class of core-shell nanoparticles formed by self-assembly of an amphiphilic peptide have strong antimicrobial properties against a range of bacteria, yeasts and fungi. The nanoparticles show a high therapeutic index against Staphylococcus aureus infection in mice and are more potent than their unassembled peptide counterparts. Using Staphylococcus aureus-infected meningitis rabbits, we show that the nanoparticles can cross the blood-brain barrier and suppress bacterial growth in infected brains. Taken together, these nanoparticles are promising antimicrobial agents that can be used to treat brain infections and other infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacokinetics
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / drug effects
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / drug effects
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Micelles
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use*
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Rabbits
  • Stachybotrys / drug effects
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Micelles