A gut reaction

November 19, 2014 by Anne Craig, Queen's University
Virginia Walker (l) and Pranab Das have shown nanosilver could be causing issues with your gut.

Queen's University biologist Virginia Walker and Queen's SARC Awarded Postdoctoral Fellow Pranab Das have shown nanosilver, which is often added to water purification units, can upset your gut. The discovery is important as people are being exposed to nanoparticles every day.

Nanosilver is also used in biomedical applications, toys, sunscreen, cosmetics, clothing and other items.

"We were surprised to see significant upset of the human gut community at the lowest concentration of nanosilver in this study," says Dr. Das. "To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has looked at this. It is important as we are more and more exposed to in our everyday lives through different routes such as inhalation, direct contact or ingestion."

To conduct the research, Drs. Walker and Das utilized another Queen's discovery, rePOOPulate, created by Elaine Petrof (Medicine). rePOOPulate is a synthetic stool substitute, which Dr. Petrof designed to treat C. difficile infections. In this instance, rather than being used as therapy, the synthetic stool was used to examine the impact of nanoparticles on the human gut.

The research showed that the addition of nanosilver reduced metabolic activity in the synthetic stool sample, perturbed fatty acids and significantly changed the population of bacteria. This information can help lead to an understanding of how nanoparticles could impact our " ecosystem."

"There is no doubt that the nanosilver shifted the bacterial community, but the impact of ingestion on our long-term health is currently unknown," Dr. Walker says. "This is another area of research we need to explore."

The findings by Drs. Das and Walker, Julie AK McDonald (Kingston General Hospital), Dr. Petrof (KGH) and Emma Allen-Vercoe (University of Guelph) were published in the Journal of Nanomedicine and Nanotechnology.

Explore further: Synthetic stool a prospective treatment for C. difficile

More information: omicsonline.org/open-access/na … 157-7439.1000235.pdf

Related Stories

Synthetic stool a prospective treatment for C. difficile

April 30, 2012

A synthetic mixture of intestinal bacteria could one day replace stool transplants as a treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C. difficile is a toxin-producing bacteria that can overpopulate the colon when antibiotics ...

Building materials may impact Arctic tundra

June 18, 2014

Virginia Walker (Biology) and her research team have revealed how common additives in building materials (nanoparticles) could possibly disrupt populations of microorganisms found in Arctic soils.

Investigating the environmental impact of nanosilver

April 22, 2013

When it comes to materials used in the fight against bacteria, silver may not be the first substance which comes to mind. However, the precious metal has been used in the medical industry as a biocide - a substance which ...

Bacteria adapt and evade nanosilver's sting

May 8, 2013

(Phys.org) —Researchers from UNSW have cautioned that more work is needed to understand how micro-organisms respond to the disinfecting properties of silver nano-particles, increasingly used in consumer goods, and for medical ...

Recommended for you

Novel sensors could enable smarter textiles

August 16, 2018

A team of engineers at the University of Delaware is developing next-generation smart textiles by creating flexible carbon nanotube composite coatings on a wide range of fibers, including cotton, nylon and wool. Their discovery ...

Twisted electronics open the door to tunable 2-D materials

August 16, 2018

Two-dimensional (2-D) materials such as graphene have unique electronic, magnetic, optical, and mechanical properties that promise to drive innovation in areas from electronics to energy to materials to medicine. Columbia ...

Flexible color displays with microfluidics

August 16, 2018

A new study published on Microsystems and Nanoengineering by Kazuhiro Kobayashi and Hiroaki Onoe details the development of a flexible and reflective multicolor display system that does not require continued energy supply ...

Scientists discover why silver clusters emit light

August 16, 2018

Clusters of silver atoms captured in zeolites, a porous material with small channels and voids, have remarkable light-emitting properties. They can be used for more efficient lighting applications as a substitute for LED ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.