Endotoxin Hitchhiking on Polymer Nanoparticles


The control of microbial infections is critical for the preparation of biological media including water to prevent lethal septic shock. Sepsis is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. More than half a million patients suffer from sepsis every year. Both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria are responsible for septic infection by the most common organisms i.e., Escherichia coli and Pseuodomonas aeruginosa. The bacterial cell membrane releases negatively charged endotoxins upon death and enzymatic destruction, which stimulate antigenic response in humans to gram-negative infections. Several methods including distillation, ethylene oxide treatment, filtration and irradiation have been employed to remove endotoxins from contaminated samples, however, the reduction efficiency remains low, and presents a challenge. Polymer nanoparticles can be used to overcome the current inability to effectively sequester endotoxins from water. This process is termed endotoxin hitchhiking. The binding of endotoxin on polymer nanoparticles via electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions offers efficient removal from water. However, the effect of polymer nanoparticles and its surface areas has not been investigated for removal of endotoxins. Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) polymer was tested for its ability to effectively bind and remove endotoxins from water. By employing a simple one-step phase separation technique, we were able to synthesize PCL nanoparticles of 398.3 ± 95.13 nm size and a polydispersity index of 0.2. PCL nanoparticles showed ∼78.8% endotoxin removal efficiency, the equivalent of 3.9 x 105 endotoxin units (EU) per ml. This is 8.34-fold more effective than that reported for commercially available membranes. Transmission electron microscopic images confirmed binding of multiple endotoxins to the nanoparticle surface. The concept of using nanoparticles may be applicable not only to eliminate gram-negative bacteria, but also for any gram-positive bacteria, fungi and parasites.


Biological Sciences

Second Department

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Endotoxin; nanoparticle; polymer; septic shock; solvent diffusion method

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0957-4484; 1361-6528

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2016 Institute of Physics - IOP Publishing, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2016

PubMed ID