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Acta Biomater. 2010 Jul;6(7):2562-71. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2010.01.002. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

Antibacterial action of a novel functionalized chitosan-arginine against Gram-negative bacteria.

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Biology Department, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801, USA.


The antimicrobial activity of chitosan and chitosan derivatives has been well established. However, although several mechanisms have been proposed, the exact mode of action is still unclear. Here we report on the investigation of antibacterial activity and the antibacterial mode of action of a novel water-soluble chitosan derivative, arginine-functionalized chitosan, on the Gram-negative bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens and Escherichia coli. Two different arginine-functionalized chitosans (6% arginine-substituted and 30% arginine-substituted) each strongly inhibited P. fluorescens and E. coli growth. Time-dependent killing efficacy experiments showed that 5000 mg l(-1) of 6%- and 30%-substituted chitosan-arginine killed 2.7 logs and 4.5 logs of P. fluorescens, and 4.8 logs and 4.6 logs of E. coli in 4h, respectively. At low concentrations, the 6%-substituted chitosan-arginine was more effective in inhibiting cell growth even though the 30%-substituted chitosan-arginine appeared to be more effective in permeabilizing the cell membranes of both P. fluorescens and E. coli. Studies using fluorescent probes, 1-N-phenyl-naphthylamine (NPN), nile red (NR) and propidium iodide (PI), and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) suggest that chitosan-arginine's antibacterial activity is, at least in part, due to its interaction with the cell membrane, in which it increases membrane permeability.

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