, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 587–596 | Cite as

Antibacterial Effect of Silver and Iron Oxide Nanoparticles in Combination with Antibiotics on E. coli K12

  • Khachatryan Anush
  • Kazaryan Shushanik
  • Tiratsuyan Susanna
  • Hovhannisyan AshkhenEmail author


Antibiotic resistance is one of the main public health problems. The increase in the occurrence of multi-resistant pathogenic strains of bacteria due to biofilm formation gradually leads to inefficiency of traditional antibiotics. There are many strategies to combat biofilms, such as nanotechnologies. It is extremely important and relevant for nanomedicine to understand how the exposure of metal nanoparticles affects living organisms. The aim was to study the synergistic antibacterial activity of silver (AgNPs) and iron oxide (Fe3O4NPs) nanoparticles in combination with tetracycline (Tet) and ampicillin (Amp). The tests were performed against the wild strain E. coli K12. Our results suggest that both Fe3O4NPs and AgNPs form complexes with Amp and Tet. Fe3O4NPs slow down and AgNPs suppress the growth of E. coli at high concentrations. Dose-dependent inhibition of E. coli K12 growth is observed for AgNPs and Tet-AgNPs. The synergistic antibacterial effect is likely due to enhanced bacterial binding by AgNPs, which is assisted by Tet, but not by Amp. Fe3O4NPs do not exhibit bacterial growth inhibitory activity, but in combination with Amp, antagonism is observed. Fe3O4NPs slightly enhance the antibacterial effect of Tet. The antibacterial effect of Amp and Tet decreases when used in combination with AgNPs. Fe3O4NPs reduce the inhibitory effect of antibiotics on the formation of microcolonies. AgNPs suppress the growth of microcolonies, and in combination with Tet, the effects are enhanced. We hypothesize that the synergistic antibacterial activity correlates with the complex formation between NPs and the antibiotics. We propose pathways which lead to the synergistic effect.


Silver nanoparticles Iron oxide nanoparticles Antibacterial effect Antibiotics E. coli K12 



The authors thank Rshtuni L (Russian-Armenian University) for the help with synthesis of nanoparticles. The work was performed in the framework of the Program for Basic Research of Russian State Academies of Sciences for 2018.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest


Research Involving Humans and Animals Statement


Informed Consent



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khachatryan Anush
    • 1
  • Kazaryan Shushanik
    • 1
  • Tiratsuyan Susanna
    • 1
  • Hovhannisyan Ashkhen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Analytical biochemistry and Biotechnology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and BiotechnologyRussian-Armenian UniversityYerevanRepublic of Armenia

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