Iron oxide nanoparticles induce Pseudomonas aeruginosa growth, induce biofilm formation, and inhibit antimicrobial peptide function†
Given the increased use of iron-containing nanoparticles in a number of applications, it is important to understand any effects that iron-containing nanoparticles can have on the environment and human health. Since iron concentrations are extremely low in body fluids, there is potential that iron-containing nanoparticles may influence the ability of bacteria to scavenge iron for growth, affect virulence and inhibit antimicrobial peptide (AMP) function. In this study, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA01) and AMPs were exposed to iron oxide nanoparticles, hematite (α-Fe2O3), of different sizes ranging from 2 to 540 nm (2 ± 1, 43 ± 6, 85 ± 25 and 540 ± 90 nm) in diameter. Here we show that the greatest effect on bacterial growth, biofilm formation, and AMP function impairment is found when exposed to the smallest particles. These results are attributed in large part to enhanced dissolution observed for the smallest particles and an increase in the amount of bioavailable iron. Furthermore, AMP function can be additionally impaired by adsorption onto nanoparticle surfaces. In particular, lysozyme readily adsorbs onto the nanoparticle surface which can lead to loss of peptide activity. Thus, this current study shows that co-exposure of nanoparticles and known pathogens can impact host innate immunity. Therefore, it is important that future studies be designed to further understand these types of impacts.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Environmental Science: Nano 2014 Most Accessed Articles and Celebrating the 2014 RSC Prize and Award Winners