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Biodegradable Polymer Theranostic Fluorescent Nanoprobe for Direct Visualization and Quantitative Determination of Antimicrobial Activity

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journal contribution
posted on 30.07.2020 by Ruma Ghosh, Mehak Malhotra, Rupali Ravindra Madhuri Sathe, Manickam Jayakannan
We report a biodegradable fluorescent theranostic nanoprobe design strategy for simultaneous visualization and quantitative determination of antibacterial activity for the treatment of bacterial infections. Cationic-charged polycaprolactone (PCL) was tailor-made through ring-opening polymerization methodology, and it was self-assembled into well-defined tiny 5.0 ± 0.1 nm aqueous nanoparticles (NPs) having a zeta potential of +45 mV. Excellent bactericidal activity at 10.0 ng/mL concentration was accomplished in Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) while maintaining their nonhemolytic nature in mice red blood cells (RBC) and their nontoxic trend in wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblast cells with a selectivity index of >104. Electron microscopic studies are evident of the E. coli membrane disruption mechanism by the cationic NP with respect to their high selectivity for antibacterial activity. Anionic biomarker 8-hydroxy-pyrene-1,3,6-trisulfonic acid (HPTS) was loaded in the cationic PCL NP via electrostatic interaction to yield a new fluorescent theranostic nanoprobe to accomplish both therapeutics and diagnostics together in a single nanosystem. The theranostic NP was readily degradable by a bacteria-secreted lipase enzyme as well as by lysosomal esterase enzymes at the intracellular compartments in <12 h and support their suitability for biomedical application. In the absence of bactericidal activity, the theranostic nanoprobe functions exclusively as a biomarker to exhibit strong green-fluorescent signals in live E. coli. Once it became active, the theranostic probe induces membrane disruption on E. coli, which enabled the costaining of nuclei by red fluorescent propidium iodide. As a result, live and dead bacteria could be visualized via green and orange signals (merging of red+green), respectively, during the course of the antibacterial activity by the theranostic probe. This has enabled the development of a new image-based fluorescence assay to directly visualize and quantitatively estimate the real-time antibacterial activity. Time-dependent bactericidal activity was coupled with selective photoexcitation in a confocal microscope to demonstrate the proof-of-concept of the working principle of a theranostic probe in E. coli. This new theranostic nanoprobe creates a new platform for the simultaneous probing and treating of bacterial infections in a single nanodesign, which is very useful for a long-term impact in healthcare applications.