An effective novel strategy to detect bacteria is promising because it may improve human health by allowing early diagnosis and timely treatment of bacterial infections. Here, we report a simple, reliable, and economical colorimetric assay using the peroxidase-like activity of chitosan-coated iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (CS-MNPs). When CS-MNPs are incubated with a sample containing bacterial cells such as the gram-negative Escherichia coli
or the gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus
, the negatively-charged bacterial membrane interacts with positively-charged chitosan on the surface of CS-MNPs, thus resulting in significant reduction of their peroxidase-like activity presumably by a hindrance in the accessibility of the negatively charged substrate, 2-2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) diammonium salt (ABTS) to the positively-charged CS-MNPs. This simple colorimetric strategy allowed the rapid detection of bacterial cells down to 104
by the naked eye and 102
by spectrophotometry within 10 min. Based on the results, we anticipate that the CS-MNPs-based assay has great potential for the on-site diagnosis of bacterial infections in facility-limited or point-of-care testing (POCT) environments.
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