Homogeneous Distribution of Magnetic, Antimicrobial-Carrying Nanoparticles through an Infectious Biofilm Enhances Biofilm-Killing Efficacy

Kecheng Quan, Zexin Zhang, Yijin Ren, Henk J. Busscher, Henny C. van der Mei, Brandon W. Peterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
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Magnetic, antimicrobial-carrying nanoparticles provide a promising, new and direly needed antimicrobial strategy against infectious bacterial biofilms. Penetration and accumulation of antimicrobials over the thickness of a biofilm is a conditio sine qua non for effective killing of biofilm inhabitants. Simplified schematics on magnetic-targeting always picture homogeneous distribution of magnetic, antimicrobial-carrying nanoparticles over the thickness of biofilms, but this is not easy to achieve. Here, gentamicin-carrying magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs-G) were synthesized through gentamicin conjugation with iron-oxide nanoparticles and used to demonstrate the importance of their homogeneous distribution over the thickness of a biofilm. Diameters of MNPs-G were around 60 nm, well below the limit for reticuloendothelial rejection. MNPs-G killed most ESKAPE-panel pathogens, including Escherichia coli, equally as well as gentamicin in solution. MNPs-G distribution in a Staphylococcus aureus biofilm was dependent on magnetic-field exposure time and most homogeneous after 5 min magnetic-field exposure. Exposure of biofilms to MNPs-G with 5 min magnetic-field exposure yielded not only homogeneous distribution of MNPs-G, but concurrently better staphylococcal killing at all depths than that of MNPs, gentamicin in solution, and MNPs-G, or after other magnet-field exposure times. In summary, homogeneous distribution of gentamicin-carrying magnetic nanoparticles over the thickness of a staphylococcal biofilm was essential for killing biofilm inhabitants and required optimizing of the magnetic-field exposure time. This conclusion is important for further successful development of magnetic, antimicrobial carrying nanoparticles toward clinical application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
JournalACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13-Jan-2020


  • magnetic targeting
  • magnetic nanoparticles
  • gentamicin
  • biofilm
  • infection

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