Diatomaceous earth (DE), a nanoporous silica material composed of fossilized unicellular marine algae, possesses unique mechanical, molecular transport, optical, and photonic properties exploited across an array of biomedical applications. The utility of DE in these applications stands to be enhanced through the incorporation of nitric oxide (NO) technology shown to modulate essential physiological processes. In this work, the preparation and characterization of a biotemplated diatomaceous earth-based nitric oxide delivery scaffold are described for the first time. Three aminosilanes [(3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (APTES), N-(6-aminohexyl)aminomethyltriethoxysilane (AHAMTES), and 3-aminopropyldimethylethoxysilane (APDMES)] were evaluated for their ability to maximize NO loading via the covalent attachment of N-acetyl-d-penicillamine (NAP) to diatomaceous earth. The use of APTES cross-linker resulted in maximal NAP tethering to the DE surface, and NAP-DE was converted to NO-releasing S-nitroso-N-acetyl-penicillamine (SNAP)-DE by nitrosation. The total NO loading of SNAP-DE was determined by chemiluminescence to be 0.0372 ± 0.00791 μmol/mg. Retention of diatomaceous earth's unique mesoporous morphology throughout the derivatization was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy. SNAP-DE exhibited 92.95% killing efficiency against Gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus as compared to the control. The WST-8-based cytotoxicity testing showed no negative impact on mouse fibroblast cells, demonstrating the biocompatible potential of SNAP-DE. The development of NO releasing diatomaceous earth presents a unique means of delivering tunable levels of NO to materials across the fields of polymer chemistry, tissue engineering, drug delivery, and wound healing.
Keywords: antibacterial effect; diatomaceous earth; mesoporous silica; nitric oxide; tunable drug release.