Interactions of Gold and Silver Nanoparticles with Bacterial Biofilms: Molecular Interactions behind Inhibition and Resistance

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Many bacteria have the capability to form a three-dimensional, strongly adherent network called ‘biofilm’. Biofilms provide adherence, resourcing nutrients and offer protection to bacterial cells. They are involved in pathogenesis, disease progression and resistance to almost all classical antibiotics. The need for new antimicrobial therapies has led to exploring applications of gold and silver nanoparticles against bacterial biofilms. These nanoparticles and their respective ions exert antimicrobial action by damaging the biofilm structure, biofilm components and hampering bacterial metabolism via various mechanisms. While exerting the antimicrobial activity, these nanoparticles approach the biofilm, penetrate it, migrate internally and interact with key components of biofilm such as polysaccharides, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids via electrostatic, hydrophobic, hydrogen-bonding, Van der Waals and ionic interactions. Few bacterial biofilms also show resistance to these nanoparticles through similar interactions. The nature of these interactions and overall antimicrobial effect depend on the physicochemical properties of biofilm and nanoparticles. Hence, study of these interactions and participating molecular players is of prime importance, with which one can modulate properties of nanoparticles to get maximal antibacterial effects against a wide spectrum of bacterial pathogens. This article provides a comprehensive review of research specifically directed to understand the molecular interactions of gold and silver nanoparticles with various bacterial biofilms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7658
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number20
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Biofilm
  • Antimicrobials
  • Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs)
  • Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs)
  • Biofilm inhibition
  • Molecular interactions


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