Integrating silver compounds and nanoparticles into ceria nanocontainers for antimicrobial applications†
Silver compounds and nanoparticles (NPs) are gaining increasing interest in medical applications, specifically in the treatment and prevention of biomaterial-related infections. However, the silver release from these materials, resulting in a limited antimicrobial activity, is often difficult to control. In this paper, ceria nanocontainers were synthesized by a template-assisted method and were then used to encapsulate silver nitrate (AgNO3/CeO2 nanocontainers). Over the first 30 days, a significant level of silver was released, as determined using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES). A novel type of ceria container containing silver NPs (AgNP/CeO2 containers) was also developed using two different template removal methods. The presence of AgNPs was confirmed both on the surface and in the interior of the ceria containers by X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Upon removal of the template by calcination, the silver was released over a period exceeding three months (>90 days). However, when the template was removed by dissolution, the silver release was shortened to ≤14 days. The antimicrobial activity of the silver-containing CeO2 containers was observed and the minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) was determined using the broth dilution method. Investigation on human cells, using a model epithelial barrier cell type (A549 cells), highlighted that all three samples induced a heightened cytotoxicity leading to cell death when exposed to all containers in their raw form. This was attributed to the surface roughness of the CeO2 nanocontainers and the kinetics of the silver release from the AgNO3/CeO2 and AgNP/CeO2 nanocontainers. In conclusion, despite the need for further emphasis on their biocompatibility, the concept of the AgNP/CeO2 nanocontainers offers a potentially alternative long-term antibactericidal strategy for implant materials.