Synergy of silver nanoparticles and aztreonam against Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 biofilms

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014 Oct;58(10):5818-30. doi: 10.1128/AAC.03170-14. Epub 2014 Jul 21.


Pathogenic bacterial biofilms, such as those found in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), exhibit increased antimicrobial resistance, due in part to the inherent architecture of the biofilm community. The protection provided by the biofilm limits antimicrobial dispersion and penetration and reduces the efficacy of antibiotics that normally inhibit planktonic cell growth. Thus, alternative antimicrobial strategies are required to combat persistent infections. The antimicrobial properties of silver have been known for decades, but silver and silver-containing compounds have recently seen renewed interest as antimicrobial agents for treating bacterial infections. The goal of this study was to assess the efficacy of citrate-capped silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) of various sizes, alone and in combination with the monobactam antibiotic aztreonam, to inhibit Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 biofilms. Among the different sizes of AgNPs examined, 10-nm nanoparticles were most effective in inhibiting the recovery of P. aeruginosa biofilm cultures and showed synergy of inhibition when combined with sub-MIC levels of aztreonam. Visualization of biofilms treated with combinations of 10-nm AgNPs and aztreonam indicated that the synergistic bactericidal effects are likely caused by better penetration of the small AgNPs into the biofilm matrix, which enhances the deleterious effects of aztreonam against the cell envelope of P. aeruginosa within the biofilms. These data suggest that small AgNPs synergistically enhance the antimicrobial effects of aztreonam against P. aeruginosa in vitro, and they reveal a potential role for combinations of small AgNPs and antibiotics in treating patients with chronic infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aztreonam / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Silver / chemistry*
  • Silver / pharmacology*


  • Silver
  • Aztreonam