New Insights into Antibiofilm Effect of a Nanosized ZnO Coating against the Pathogenic Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Marta M Alves, Ons Bouchami, Ana Tavares, Laura Córdoba, Catarina F Santos, Maria Miragaia, Maria de Fátima Montemor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) are arising as promising novel antibiotics toward device-related infections. The surface functionalization of Zn, a novel resorbable biomaterial, with ZnO NPs could present an effective solution to overcome such a threat. In this sense, the antibacterial and antibiofilm activity of nano- and microsized ZnO coatings was studied against clinically relevant bacteria, methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The bacterial viability of planktonic and biofilm cells together with the corresponding biofilm structures revealed that only the nanosized ZnO coating had an antibiofilm effect. To elucidate this effect, a novel approach was taken: preconditioning of bacteria with this ZnO coating followed by exposure to subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics with well-known modes of actions. This approached revealed (i) a decreased biofilm formation in combination with gentamycin, targeting protein synthesis, and (ii) an increased biofilm formation in the presence of rifampicin and vancomycin, acting on RNA and cell wall biosynthesis, respectively. The increased bacteria resistance to these two antibiotics gave new insights into the antibiofilm effect of this nanosized ZnO coating. The synergistic effect observed for gentamycin opened new perspectives for the design of effective solutions against implant-related infections. During the in vitro degradation of this nanosized ZnO-coated Zn, a specific corrosion product, hopeite [Zn3(PO4)2], was depicted. Interestingly, the increased deposition of hopeite-derived compounds on MRSA cells surface seemed to be related to unhealthy and dead bacterial cells. This observation suggested that hopeite may well play a key role in this antibiofilm activity. The results obtained herein shed light on the possible antibacterial effect of a nanosized ZnO coating, and strengthened its antimicrobial (antibacterial and antifungal) potential, therefore providing a potentially effective material to overcome the growing trend of implant-related infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28157-28167
Number of pages11
JournalAcs Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017


  • MRSA
  • ZnO coating
  • antibiotics
  • biofilm
  • nanoparticles


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