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Antimicrobial Activities and Mechanisms of Magnesium Oxide Nanoparticles (nMgO) against Pathogenic Bacteria, Yeasts, and Biofilms.


Magnesium oxide nanoparticle (nMgO) is a light metal based antimicrobial nanoparticle that can be metabolized and fully resorbed in the body. To take advantage of the antimicrobial properties of nMgO for medical use, it is necessary to determine the minimal inhibitory, bactericidal and fungicidal concentrations (MIC, MBC and MFC) of nMgO against prevalent infectious bacteria and yeasts. The objective of this study was to use consistent methods and conditions to reveal and directly compare the efficacy of nMgO against nine prevalent pathogenic microorganisms, including two gram-negative bacteria, three gram-positive bacteria with drug-resistant strains, and four yeasts with drug-resistant strains. The MIC of nMgO varied from 0.5 mg/mL to 1.2 mg/mL and the minimal lethal concentration (MLC) of nMgO at 90% killing varied from 0.7 mg/mL to 1.4 mg/mL against different pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. The most potent concentrations (MPC) of nMgO were 1.4 and/or 1.6 mg/mL, depending on the type of bacteria and yeasts tested. As the concentration of nMgO increased, the adhesion of bacteria and yeasts decreased. Moreover, S. epidermidis biofilm was disrupted at 1.6 mg/mL of nMgO. E. coli and some yeasts showed membrane damage after cultured with ≥0.5 mg/mL nMgO. Overall, nMgO killed both planktonic bacteria and disrupted nascent biofilms, suggesting new antimicrobial mechanisms of nMgO. Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), Ca2+ ion concentrations, and quorum sensing likely contribute to the action mechanisms of nMgO against planktonic bacteria, but transient alkaline pH of 7 to 10 or increased Mg2+ ion concentrations from 1 to 50 mM showed no inhibitory or killing effects on bacteria such as S. epidermidis. Further studies are needed to determine if specific concentrations of nMgO at MIC, MLC or MPC level can be integrated into medical devices to evoke desired antimicrobial responses without harming host cells.

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