Antimicrobial activity of metal oxide microspheres: an innovative process for homogeneous incorporation into materials

J Appl Microbiol. 2018 Jul;125(1):45-55. doi: 10.1111/jam.13752. Epub 2018 May 8.


Aims: To investigate the potent control of microbial surface contamination of an innovative process which consists in incorporating metal oxide microspheres homogeneously into materials.

Methods and results: Spherical microspheres containing zinc and magnesium oxides synthesized via a one-step manufacturing process (Pyrolyse Pulvérisée® ) and incorporated into different plastic matrices were evaluated for their antimicrobial activity according to JIS Z 2801 standard. A significant activity was observed for microsphere-added polyethylene coupons with a reduction of all tested bacteria populations, including Gram negative and Gram positive even expressing acquired antibiotic resistance (Escherichia coli ESBL, Staphylococcus aureus metiR). An antiviral activity higher than 2 log of reduction was also observed on H1N1 and HSV-1 viruses. This antimicrobial effect was dose-dependent and time-dependent for both polyethylene and polypropylene matrices. Antimicrobial activity was maintained after exposition to disinfectants and totally preserved 50 months after the preparation of the coupons.

Conclusions: Incorporated into plastic matrices, metal oxide microspheres showed significant antibacterial and antiviral activities.

Significance and impact of study: This is, to our knowledge, the first report on an original process incorporating metal oxide microspheres, which have specific physico-chemical and antimicrobial properties, into materials that could be used for surface contamination prevention.

Keywords: antimicrobial activity; contamination prevention; metal oxide microspheres; resistant bacteria; viruses.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / drug effects
  • Metals / chemistry
  • Metals / pharmacology*
  • Microspheres*
  • Oxides / chemistry
  • Oxides / pharmacology*
  • Plastics / chemistry*
  • Viruses / drug effects*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Disinfectants
  • Metals
  • Oxides
  • Plastics