Int J Med Sci 2016; 13(10):772-782. doi:10.7150/ijms.16011

Research Paper

Capping Agent-Dependent Toxicity and Antimicrobial Activity of Silver Nanoparticles: An In Vitro Study. Concerns about Potential Application in Dental Practice

Karolina Niska1, Narcyz Knap1, Anna Kędzia2, Maciej Jaskiewicz3, Wojciech Kamysz3, Iwona Inkielewicz-Stepniak1 ✉

1. Department of Medical Chemistry, Medical University Gdansk, Poland
2. Department of Oral Microbiology, Medical University Gdansk, Poland
3. Department of Inorganic Chemistry, Medical University Gdansk, Poland


Objectives: In dentistry, silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) have drawn particular attention because of their wide antimicrobial activity spectrum. However, controversial information on AgNPs toxicity limited their use in oral infections. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the antibacterial activities against a panel of oral pathogenic bacteria and bacterial biofilms together with potential cytotoxic effects on human gingival fibroblasts of 10 nm AgNPs: non-functionalized - uncapped (AgNPs-UC) as well as surface-functionalized with capping agent: lipoic acid (AgNPs-LA), polyethylene glycol (AgNPs-PEG) or tannic acid (AgNPs-TA) using silver nitrate (AgNO3) as control.

Methods: The interaction of AgNPs with human gingival fibroblast cells (HGF-1) was evaluated using the mitochondrial metabolic potential assay (MTT). Antimicrobial activity of AgNPs was tested against anaerobic Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria isolated from patients with oral cavity and respiratory tract infections, and selected aerobic Staphylococci strains. Minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) values were determined by the agar dilution method for anaerobic bacteria or broth microdilution method for reference Staphylococci strains and Streptococcus mutans. These strains were also used for antibiofilm activity of AgNPs.

Results: The highest antimicrobial activities at nontoxic concentrations were observed for the uncapped AgNPs and the AgNPs capped with LA. It was found that AgNPs-LA and AgNPs-PEG demonstrated lower cytotoxicity as compared with the AgNPs-TA or AgNPs-UC in the gingival fibroblast model. All of the tested nanoparticles proved less toxic and demonstrated wider spectrum of antimicrobial activities than AgNO3 solution. Additionally, AgNPs-LA eradicated Staphylococcus epidermidis and Streptococcus mutans 1-day biofilm at concentration nontoxic to oral cells.

Conclusions: Our results proved that a capping agent had significant influence on the antibacterial, antibiofilm activity and cytotoxicity of AgNPs.

Clinical significance: This study highlighted potential usefulness of AgNPs against oral anaerobic Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial infections and aerobic Staphylococci strains provided that pharmacological activity and risk assessment are carefully performed.

Keywords: silver nanoparticles, capping agent, human gingival fibroblasts, antibacterial activity, antibiofilm activity, cytotoxicity

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How to cite this article:
Niska K, Knap N, Kędzia A, Jaskiewicz M, Kamysz W, Inkielewicz-Stepniak I. Capping Agent-Dependent Toxicity and Antimicrobial Activity of Silver Nanoparticles: An In Vitro Study. Concerns about Potential Application in Dental Practice. Int J Med Sci 2016; 13(10):772-782. doi:10.7150/ijms.16011. Available from