Design and characterization of antimicrobial usnic acid loaded-core/shell magnetic nanoparticles

Vincenzo Taresco, Iolanda Francolini, Franco Padella, Mariangela Bellusci, Adriano Boni, Claudia Innocenti, Andrea Martinelli, Lucio D'Ilario, Antonella Piozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


The application of magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) in medicine is considered much promising especially because they can be handled and directed to specific body sites by external magnetic fields. MNPs have been investigated in magnetic resonance imaging, hyperthermia and drug targeting. In this study, properly functionalized core/shell MNPs with antimicrobial properties were developed to be used for the prevention and treatment of medical device-related infections. Particularly, surface-engineered manganese iron oxide MNPs, produced by a micro-emulsion method, were coated with two different polymers and loaded with usnic acid (UA), a dibenzofuran natural extract possessing antimicrobial activity. Between the two polymer coatings, the one based on an intrinsically antimicrobial cationic polyacrylamide (pAcDED) resulted to be able to provide MNPs with proper magnetic properties and basic groups for UA loading. Thanks to the establishment of acid-base interactions, pAcDED-coated MNPs were able to load and release significant drug amounts resulting in good antimicrobial properties versus Staphylococcus epidermidis (MIC = 0.1 mg/mL). The use of pAcDED having intrinsic antimicrobial activity as MNP coating in combination with UA likely contributed to obtain an enhanced antimicrobial effect. The developed drug-loaded MNPs could be injected in the patient soon after device implantation to prevent biofilm formation, or, later, in presence of signs of infection to treat the biofilm grown on the device surfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72 - 81
Number of pages10
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Medicine(all)

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