Combating Intracellular Pathogens with Nanohybrid-Facilitated Antibiotic Delivery

Int J Nanomedicine. 2020 Oct 29;15:8437-8449. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S271850. eCollection 2020.


Background: Lipid polymer hybrid nanoparticles (LPHNPs) have been widely investigated in drug and gene delivery as well as in medical imaging. A knowledge of lipid-based surface engineering and its effects on how the physicochemical properties of LPHNPs affect the cell-nanoparticle interactions, and consequently how it influences the cytological response, is in high demand.

Methods: Herein, we have engineered antibiotic-loaded (doxycycline or vancomycin) LPHNPs with cationic and zwitterionic lipids and examined the effects on their physicochemical characteristics (size and charge), antibiotic entrapment efficiency, and the in vitro intracellular bacterial killing efficiency against Mycobacterium smegmatis or Staphylococcus aureus infected macrophages.

Results: The incorporation of cationic or zwitterionic lipids in the LPHNP formulation resulted in a size reduction in LPHNPs formulations and shifted the surface charge of bare NPs towards positive or neutral values. Also observed were influences on the drug incorporation efficiency and modulation of the drug release from the biodegradable polymeric core. The therapeutic efficacy of LPHNPs loaded with vancomycin was improved as its minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) (2 µg/mL) versus free vancomycin (4 µg/mL). Importantly, our results show a direct relationship between the cationic surface nature of LPHNPs and its intracellular bacterial killing efficiency as the cationic doxycycline or vancomycin loaded LPHNPs reduced 4 or 3 log CFU respectively versus the untreated controls.

Conclusion: In our study, modulation of surface charge in the nanomaterial formulation increased macrophage uptake and intracellular bacterial killing efficiency of LPHNPs loaded with antibiotics, suggesting alternate way for optimizing their use in biomedical applications.

Keywords: Mycobacterium smegmatis; Staphylococcus aureus; doxycycline; intracellular bacterial infection; nanohybrids; vancomycin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Liberation
  • Intracellular Space / microbiology*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis / drug effects
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Particle Size
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Lipids
  • Polymers
  • Vancomycin