Dual-functionalised shellac nanocarriers give a super-boost of the antimicrobial action of berberine†
We have developed highly efficient antimicrobial nanocarriers for berberine (BRB) based on shellac nanoparticles (NPs) which were surface-functionalised with a surface active polymer, Poloxamer 407 (P407), and the cationic surfactant octadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (ODTAB). These shellac nanocarriers were produced in a two-step process which involves: (i) a pH change from aqueous ammonium shellac solution using P407 as a steric stabilizer in the presence of berberine chloride, and (ii) addition of ODTAB to yield shellac nanocarriers of cationic surface. We determined the BRB encapsulation efficiency and release profiles from such nanocarriers. We explored the antimicrobial action of these nanocarriers at different stages of their preparation which allowed us gain better understanding how they work, fine tune their design and reveal the impact of the nanoparticle coatings on to its antimicrobial effect. The antimicrobial action of BRB loaded within such shellac NPs with cationic surface functionality was examined on three different microorganisms, C. reinhardtii, S. cerevisiae and E. coli and compared with the effect of free BRB as well as non-coated BRB-loaded nanocarriers at the same BRB concentrations. We found that the cationic surface coating of the shellac NPs strongly amplified the efficiency of the encapsulated BRB across all tested microorganisms. The effect was attributed to the increased attraction between the ODTAB-coated BRB-loaded NPs and the anionic surface of the cell walls which delivers locally high BRB concentration. This nanotechnological approach could lead to more effective antimicrobial and disinfecting agents, dental formulations for plaque control, wound dressings, antialgal/antibiofouling formulations and antifungal agents.
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