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Highly Stable Graphene-Based Nanocomposite (GO–PEI–Ag) with Broad-Spectrum, Long-Term Antimicrobial Activity and Antibiofilm Effects

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journal contribution
posted on 16.05.2018, 16:08 by Rongtao Zhao, Wen Kong, Mingxuan Sun, Yi Yang, Wanying Liu, Min Lv, Shiping Song, Lihua Wang, Hongbin Song, Rongzhang Hao
Various silver nanoparticle (AgNP)-decorated graphene oxide (GO) nanocomposites (GO–Ag) have received increasing attention owing to their antimicrobial activity and biocompatibility; however, their aggregation in physiological solutions and the generally complex synthesis methods warrant improvement. This study aimed to synthesize a polyethyleneimine (PEI)-modified and AgNP-decorated GO nanocomposite (GO–PEI–Ag) through a facile approach through microwave irradiation without any extra reductants and surfactants; its antimicrobial activity was investigated on Gram-negative/-positive bacteria (including drug-resistant bacteria) and fungi. Compared with GO–Ag, GO–PEI–Ag acquired excellent stability in physiological solutions and electropositivity, showing substantially higher antimicrobial efficacy. Moreover, GO–PEI–Ag exhibited particularly excellent long-term effects, presenting no obvious decline in antimicrobial activity after 1 week storage in physiological saline and repeated use for three times and the lasting inhibition of bacterial growth in nutrient-rich culture medium. In contrast, GO–Ag exhibited a >60% decline in antimicrobial activity after storage. Importantly, GO–PEI–Ag effectively eliminated adhered bacteria, thereby preventing biofilm formation. The primary antimicrobial mechanisms of GO–PEI–Ag were evidenced as physical damage to the pathogen structure, causing cytoplasmic leakage. Hence, stable GO–PEI–Ag with robust, long-term antimicrobial activity holds promise in combating public-health threats posed by drug-resistant bacteria and biofilms.