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Nano Lett. 2006 Apr;6(4):866-70.

Toxicological impact studies based on Escherichia coli bacteria in ultrafine ZnO nanoparticles colloidal medium.

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Interfaces, Traitements, Organisation et Dynamique des Systèmes, UMR-CNRS 7086, Université Paris 7-Denis Diderot, 751 Paris Cedex 05, France.


We report here preliminary studies of biocidal effects and cellular internalization of ZnO nanoparticles on Escherichia coli bacteria. ZnO nanoparticles were synthesized in di(ethylene glycol) (DEG) medium by forced hydrolysis of ionic Zn2+ salts. Particle size and shape were controlled by addition of small molecules and macromolecules such as tri-n-octylphosphine oxide, sodium dodecyl sulfate, polyoxyethylene stearyl ether, and bovine serum albumin. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and X-ray diffraction analyses were used to characterize particle structure, size, and morphology. Bactericidal tests were performed in Luria-Bertani medium on solid agar plates and in liquid systems with different concentrations of small and macromolecules and also with ZnO nanoparticles. TEM analyses of bacteria thin sections were used to study biocidal action of ZnO materials. The results confirmed that E. coli cells after contact with DEG and ZnO were damaged showing a Gram-negative triple membrane disorganization. This behavior causes the increase of membrane permeability leading to accumulation of ZnO nanoparticles in the bacterial membrane and also cellular internalization of these nanoparticles.

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