(217cs) Inhibited Growth of Staphylococcus Aureus and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa On Paper Towels Through the Use of Selenium Nanoparticles

Wang, Q., Brown University
Webster, T. J., Northeastern University

Growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa on Paper Towels
through the use of Selenium Nanoparticles

Qi Wang1, Thomas J. Webster1,2

1Bioengineering Program, 2Department
of Chemical Engineering,

College of Engineering, Northeastern

Boston, MA 02115, U.S.A.


      In the hospital
environment, hand washing has been identified as the most significant manner
towards preventing the spread of microbial infections1, with hand
drying as the critical last stage of the hand washing
process. In some circumstances, such as for paper towels hanging in sink splash
zones or those used to clean surfaces, they have been considered as potential
sources of bacteria contamination.2In this
study, for the first time, selenium nanoparticles were coated on normal paper
towel surfaces through a quick precipitation method. In addition, their
effectiveness at preventing biofilm formation was tested in bacterial assays
involving Staphyloccocus aureus and
Pseudomonas aeruginosa
. The results showed that the selenium
coatings successfully introduced antibacterial properties to standard paper
towels, revealing a promising selenium-based method to prevent bacterial
infections on paper products.

Materials and Methods

      Paper towels
(Tork Advanced, MB550A Hand Towel, cut into round chips, 7.01mm in diameter)
were coated with selenium nanoparticles through a simple and quick
precipitation reaction. The reaction involves glutathione (reduced form, GSH)
(97%, TCI America, Portland, OR) and sodium selenite (99%, Alfa Aesar, Ward
Hill, MA) mixed at a 4:1 molar ratio. The paper towel samples were coated for
30s under a 200 rpm (round per minute) agitation to ensure a uniform coating.
The coated substrates were rinsed in deionized water three times to remove the
free, non-adherent, selenium nanoparticles and remaining reactants. SEM
(Scanning Electron Microscope, HITACHI 2700) images of the paper towel
substrate surfaces were taken to determine the size, coverage and distribution
of selenium nanoparticles.  AAS (Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy, Furnace, AA600) was used to measure the amount of selenium
nanoparticles on the coated paper towels.

order to test the effectiveness of selenium coatings on inhibiting bacterial biofilm
growth, bacterial experiments were implemented. A bacteria
cell line of S. aureus and
P. aeruginosa
was obtained in freeze-dried form from the American
Type Culture Collection. Selenium coated samples were placed into a 24-well
plate, treated with the prepared bacterial solutions (106
bacteria/ml) and cultured for either 24, 48 or 72 hours in an incubator (37°C,
humidified and 5% CO2). After treatment, the samples were rinsed
with a phosphate buffered saline solution twice and placed into 1.5ml microfuge
tubes with 1ml of PBS. These tubes were shaken at 3000 rmp for 15 minutes on a
vortex mixer to release the bacteria attached onto the surface into the
solution. Solutions with bacteria were spread on agar plates and bacteria
colonies were counted after 18 hours of incubation. All experiments were completed in
triplicate and were repeated three separate times. Data were
collected and significant differences were assessed with the probability
associated with a one-tailed Student's t-test. Statistical analyses were
performed using Microsoft Excel (Redmond, WA).

Results and Discussion

      Figure 1 shows the SEM images of the
selenium coated paper towels (image a) and uncoated paper towels (image b). On
the selenium coated paper towel samples, the selenium nanoparticles were well
distributed and completely covered the surface. The diameters for most of the
selenium particles were around 50 nm. For the uncoated paper towel, there were
no particles observed. According to AAS results, the concentration of the selenium nanoparticles
on the coated paper towel surface was 69.00 g/m2. This concentration
is about 4 times larger than concentration of selenium on the coated
polycarbonate surfaces under the same coating conditions as published in a
previous study3. The reason was that the fibrous structure of the paper
towel significantly increased surface area to allow for more selenium
nanoparticle deposition.

Figure 1. SEM images of selenium
coated (image a) and uncoated paper (image b) towel samples. The concentration
of selenium on the paper towel as measured by AAS was 69.00 g/m2 for
the selenium coated paper towels and 0 g/m2 for the uncoated paper

results of bacteria test involving S. aureus and P. aeruginosa showed high
effectiveness for the
selenium coated paper towels
at inhibiting
bacteria growth on the paper towel
surfaces, as shown in Figure
2. The selenium coatings significantly
inhibited S. aureus  growth by about 90% after 24, 48 or 72 hours and also
successfully inhibited P. aeruginosa growth after 48 or 72 hours by 55%
and 84%,
respectively, on the surface of paper towels. Moreover, from the 24 hour culture time to the
48 hour culture time, there was an increase in bacteria numbers on uncoated
paper towel samples, but was the constant to the 72 hours culture time,
implying that the uncoated paper towel was saturated by bacteria after 48 hours
of treatment. On contrast, the bacteria numbers on the selenium coated paper
towels remained at a lower level not increasing from 24 to 48 to 72 hours, indicating successful
inhibition of bacterial growth.

Figure 2. Staphyloccocus aureus (top
graph) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa
(bottom graph) growth on the surface of selenium coated and uncoated paper
towels. Data is represented as mean ± standard deviation,
n=3; *,**,***p<0.05 compared to the uncoated
samples at the same time scale.


      In conclusion, the effectiveness of selenium
coated paper towels inhibiting bacterial growth reached about 80-90% after 3 days compared with the uncoated paper towels. Importantly, this was accomplished without using antibiotics. This study suggests that selenium
nanoparticle coatings could be used as an effective way to decrease bacterial infections
(specifically, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa) on paper products, which might have
potentially important applications in the food packaging industry, medicine,
and in clinical environments.


authors thank Dr. Justin Seil for help with the bacteria experiments. Funding
from Northeastern University is also acknowledged.


[1]. McGuckin M. Improving hand washing in hospitals: a
patient's education and empowerment program. LDI Issure Brief. 2001;7:1-4.

[2]. Hattula JL, Steven PE. A descriptive study of the hand
washing environment in a long-term care facility. Clin Nurs Res. 1997;6:363-74.

[3]. Wang Q, Webster TJ.
Nanostructured selenium for preventing biofilm formation on polycarbonate
medical devices. J. Biomed. Mater. Res. A. 2012;100(12):3205-3210.


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