Silver nanoparticles restrict microbial growth by promoting oxidative stress and DNA damage

EXCLI J. 2020 Apr 15;19:492-500. doi: 10.17179/excli2020-1244. eCollection 2020.


Bacterial infections remain a serious health issue; hence there is a need for continuous search for improved antimicrobials. In addition, it is important to understand the antibacterial mechanism of prospective antimicrobials to fully harness their benefits. In this study, the antimicrobial action of silver nanoparticles was investigated. The antimicrobial potential of silver nanoparticles against different strains of bacteria was evaluated after which Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus were selected as model for gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria respectively. Additionally, to determine mechanism of action, some biochemical assays including determination of kynurenine level, DNA fragmentation, lipid peroxidation and antioxidant status were carried out. Results showed that silver nanoparticles caused DNA damage and induced oxidative stress as reflected in elevated nitric oxide production and lipid peroxidation level. In contrast silver nanoparticles increased the antioxidant capacity viz-a-viz, elevated levels of total thiol, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) compared to untreated cells. They also initiated inconsistent alteration to the kynurenine pathway. Taken together, the findings indicate that silver nanoparticles exhibited antimicrobial action through the promotion of oxidative stress.

Keywords: antimicrobial activity; medicinal biochemistry; microbial infection; nanomedicine; nanoparticles.