The present study aimed to prepare usnic acid (UA)-loaded chitosan (CS) nanoparticles (UA-CS NPs) and evaluate its antibacterial activity against biofilm-forming pathogenic bacteria. UA-CS NPs were prepared through simple ionic gelification of UA with CS, and further characterized using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and field-emission transmission electron microscopy. The UA-CS NPs presented a loading capacity (LC) of 5.2%, encapsulation efficiency (EE) of 24%, and a spherical shape and rough surface. The maximum release of UA was higher in pH 1.2 buffer solution as compared to that in pH 6.8 and 7.4 buffer solution. The average size and zeta potential of the UA-CS NPs was 311.5 ± 49.9 nm in diameter and +27.3 ± 0.8 mV, respectively. The newly prepared UA-CS NPs exhibited antibacterial activity against persister cells obtained from the stationary phase in batch culture, mature biofilms, and antibiotic-induced gram-positive and gram-negative pathogenic bacteria. Exposure of sub-inhibitory concentrations of UA-CS NPs to the bacterial cells resulted in a change in morphology. The present study suggests an alternative method for the application of UA into nanoparticles. Furthermore, the anti-persister activity of UA-CS NPs may be another possible strategy for the treatment of infections caused by biofilm-forming pathogenic bacteria.
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