Clinical management of Clostridium difficile infection is still far from satisfactory as bacterial spores are resistant to many chemical agents and physical treatments. Certain types of nanoparticles have been demonstrated to exhibit anti-microbial efficacy even in multi-drug resistance bacteria. However, most of these studies failed to show biocompatibility to the mammalian host cells and no study has revealed in vivo efficacy in C. difficile infection animal models. The spores treated with 500 μg/mL Fe3-δO4 nanoparticles for 20 minutes, 64% of the spores were inhibited from transforming into vegetative cells, which was close to the results of the sodium hypochlorite-treated positive control. By cryo-electron micro-tomography, we demonstrated that Fe3-δO4 nanoparticles bind on spore surfaces and reduce the dipicolinic acid (DPA) released by the spores. In a C. difficile infection animal model, the inflammatory level triple decreased in mice with colonic C. difficile spores treated with Fe3-δO4 nanoparticles. Histopathological analysis showed a decreased intense neutrophil accumulation in the colon tissue of the Fe3-δO4 nanoparticle-treated mice. Fe3-δO4 nanoparticles, which had no influence on gut microbiota and apparent side effects in vivo, were efficacious inhibitors of C. difficile spore germination by attacking its surface and might become clinically feasible for prophylaxis and therapy.
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