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      Alginate Hydrogels with Embedded ZnO Nanoparticles for Wound Healing Therapy

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          In this in-vitro study, we designed a 3D printed composite of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles (NPs) with photocatalytic activities encapsulated within hydrogel (alginate) constructs, for antibacterial purposes applicable towards wound healing. We primarily sought to confirm the mechanical properties and cell compatibility of these ZnO NP infused scaffolds.


          The antibacterial property of the ZnO NPs was confirmed by hydroxyl radical generation using ultraviolet (U.V.) photocatalysis. Titanium dioxide (TiO 2), a well-known antibacterial compound, was used as a positive control (1% w/v) for the ZnO NP-based alginate constructs and their antibacterial efficacies compared. Among the ZnO group, 3D printed gels containing 0.5% and 1% w/v of ZnO were analyzed and compared with manually casted samples via SEM, swelling evaluation, and rheological analysis. Envisioning an in-vivo application for the 3D printed ZnO NP-based alginates, we studied their antibacterial properties by bacterial broth testing, cytocompatibility via live/dead assay, and moisture retention capabilities utilizing a humidity sensor.


          3D printed constructs revealed significantly greater pore sizes and enhanced structural stability compared to manually casted samples. For all samples, the addition of ZnO or TiO 2 resulted in significantly stiffer gels in comparison with the alginate control. Bacterial resistance testing on Staphylococcus epidermidis indicated the addition of ZnO NPs to the gels decreased bacterial growth when compared to the alginate only gels. Cell viability of STO-fibroblasts was not adversely affected by the addition of ZnO NPs to the alginate gels. Furthermore, the addition of increasing doses of ZnO NPs to the alginate demonstrated increased humidity retention in gels.


          The customization of 3D printed alginates containing antibacterial ZnO NPs leads to an alternative that allows accessible mobility of molecular exchange required for improving chronic wound healing. This scaffold can provide a cost-effective and durable antibacterial treatment option.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Review on Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles: Antibacterial Activity and Toxicity Mechanism

          Antibacterial activity of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) has received significant interest worldwide particularly by the implementation of nanotechnology to synthesize particles in the nanometer region. Many microorganisms exist in the range from hundreds of nanometers to tens of micrometers. ZnO-NPs exhibit attractive antibacterial properties due to increased specific surface area as the reduced particle size leading to enhanced particle surface reactivity. ZnO is a bio-safe material that possesses photo-oxidizing and photocatalysis impacts on chemical and biological species. This review covered ZnO-NPs antibacterial activity including testing methods, impact of UV illumination, ZnO particle properties (size, concentration, morphology, and defects), particle surface modification, and minimum inhibitory concentration. Particular emphasize was given to bactericidal and bacteriostatic mechanisms with focus on generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), OH− (hydroxyl radicals), and O2 −2 (peroxide). ROS has been a major factor for several mechanisms including cell wall damage due to ZnO-localized interaction, enhanced membrane permeability, internalization of NPs due to loss of proton motive force and uptake of toxic dissolved zinc ions. These have led to mitochondria weakness, intracellular outflow, and release in gene expression of oxidative stress which caused eventual cell growth inhibition and cell death. In some cases, enhanced antibacterial activity can be attributed to surface defects on ZnO abrasive surface texture. One functional application of the ZnO antibacterial bioactivity was discussed in food packaging industry where ZnO-NPs are used as an antibacterial agent toward foodborne diseases. Proper incorporation of ZnO-NPs into packaging materials can cause interaction with foodborne pathogens, thereby releasing NPs onto food surface where they come in contact with bad bacteria and cause the bacterial death and/or inhibition.
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            Antibacterial activity and mechanism of action of zinc oxide nanoparticles against Campylobacter jejuni.

            The antibacterial effect of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles on Campylobacter jejuni was investigated for inhibition and inactivation of cell growth. The results showed that C. jejuni was extremely sensitive to treatment with ZnO nanoparticles. The MIC of ZnO nanoparticles for C. jejuni was determined to be 0.05 to 0.025 mg/ml, which is 8- to 16-fold lower than that for Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis and Escherichia coli O157:H7 (0.4 mg/ml). The action of ZnO nanoparticles against C. jejuni was determined to be bactericidal, not bacteriostatic. Scanning electron microscopy examination revealed that the majority of the cells transformed from spiral shapes into coccoid forms after exposure to 0.5 mg/ml of ZnO nanoparticles for 16 h, which is consistent with the morphological changes of C. jejuni under other stress conditions. These coccoid cells were found by ethidium monoazide-quantitative PCR (EMA-qPCR) to have a certain level of membrane leakage. To address the molecular basis of ZnO nanoparticle action, a large set of genes involved in cell stress response, motility, pathogenesis, and toxin production were selected for a gene expression study. Reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) showed that in response to treatment with ZnO nanoparticles, the expression levels of two oxidative stress genes (katA and ahpC) and a general stress response gene (dnaK) were increased 52-, 7-, and 17-fold, respectively. These results suggest that the antibacterial mechanism of ZnO nanoparticles is most likely due to disruption of the cell membrane and oxidative stress in Campylobacter.
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              Direct 3D Printing of Shear-Thinning Hydrogels into Self-Healing Hydrogels.

              Supramolecular hydrogels are used in the 3D printing of high-resolution, multi-material structures. The non-covalent bonds allow the extrusion of the inks into support gels to directly write structures continuously in 3D space. This material system supports the patterning of multiple inks, cells, and void spaces.

                Author and article information

                Int J Nanomedicine
                Int J Nanomedicine
                International Journal of Nanomedicine
                15 July 2020
                : 15
                : 5097-5111
                [1 ]Department of Metallurgical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso , El Paso, TX 79968, USA
                [2 ]Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso , El Paso, TX 79968, USA
                [3 ]Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso , El Paso, TX 79968, USA
                [4 ]Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Texas at El Paso , El Paso, TX 79968, USA
                [5 ]Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at El Paso , El Paso, TX 79968, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Binata Joddar Email
                © 2020 Cleetus et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 9, Tables: 2, References: 51, Pages: 15
                Funded by: NSF-PREM (DMR-1827745), NIH1SC2HL134642-01, and the NSF-MRI (DMR 1826268)
                This work was supported by the NSF-PREM (DMR-1827745), NIH1SC2HL134642-01, and the NSF-MRI (DMR 1826268). G.F. acknowledges the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under RL5GM118969, TL4GM118971, and UL1GM118970.
                Original Research


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