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Antibacterial activity of gold nanoparticles and their toxicity assessment


Several classes of antimicrobial nanoparticles (NPs) and nanosized carriers for antibiotics delivery have proved their effectiveness as alternative agents to combat the antimicrobial resistance experienced with conventional drugs. Gold nanostructures find extensive applications in nano electronics and nanomedicine.


The present study involved the synthesis of gold nanoparticles using a sodium cholate, as both reducing and capping agent and characterization by UV- Visible spectroscopy and High ResolutionTransmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM). The antibacterial activity on significant bacterial species was evaluated by micro broth dilution method. The mechanism for antibacterial action of the gold nanoparticles were studied by reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation that causes oxidative stress to microbial cells and release of intracellular enzyme lactate dehydrogenase into extracellular medium (LDH assay) indicative of loss of cell membrane integrity.


The synthesized gold nanoparticles showed characteristic peak at 541 nm by UV- Visible spectroscopy with particle size of 10nm as confirmed by HRTEM. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC80) of the nanoparticles on E. coli, S. typhi, P. aeruginosa, K. pneumoniae, ranged from 20 to 40µg/mL. The ROS generation was directly dependent on the concentration of the nanoparticles and no detectable enzyme leakage was recorded.


The results showed appreciable antibacterial activity of gold nanoparticles against the tested species and the possible mechanism of antibacterial activity may be due to increased intracellular ROS generation causing oxidative stress to the bacterial cells while LDH assay indicated that nanoparticles caused no damage to the cell membrane integrity.

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Correspondence to K Umamaheswari.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Umamaheswari, K., Baskar, R., Chandru, K. et al. Antibacterial activity of gold nanoparticles and their toxicity assessment. BMC Infect Dis 14 (Suppl 3), P64 (2014).

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