Efficient Synergistic Antibacterial Activity of α-MSH Using Chitosan-Based Versatile Nanoconjugates

Sourav Barman, Asmita Chakraborty, Sujata Saha, Kunal Sikder, Sayoni Maitra Roy, Barkha Modi, Sabarnee Bahadur, Ali Hossain Khan, Dipak Manna, Pousali Bag, Ankan Kumar Sarkar, Rishi Bhattacharya, Arnab Basu, Amit Ranjan Maity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The application of antimicrobial peptides has emerged as an alternative therapeutic tool to encounter against multidrug resistance of different pathogenic organisms. α-Melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH), an endogenous neuropeptide, is found to be efficient in eradicating infection of various kinds of Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). However, the chemical stability and efficient delivery of these biopharmaceuticals (i.e., α-MSH) to bacterial cells with a significant antibacterial effect remains a key challenge. To address this issue, we have developed a chitosan-cholesterol polymer using a single-step, one-pot, and simple chemical conjugation technique, where α-MSH is loaded with a significantly high amount (37.7%), and the final product is obtained as chitosan-cholesterol α-MSH polymer-drug nanoconjugates. A staphylococcal growth inhibition experiment was performed using chitosan-cholesterol α-MSH and individual controls. α-MSH and chitosan-cholesterol both show bacterial growth inhibition by a magnitude of 50 and 79%, respectively. The killing efficiency of polymer-drug nanoconjugates was very drastic, and almost no bacterial colony was observed (∼100% inhibition) after overnight incubation. Phenotypic alternation was observed in the presence of α-MSH causing changes in the cell structure and shape, indicating stress on Staphylococcus aureus. As a further consequence, vigorous cell lysis with concomitant release of the cellular material in the nearby medium was observed after treatment of chitosan-cholesterol α-MSH nanoconjugates. This vigorous lysis of the cell structure is associated with extensive aggregation of the bacterial cells evident in scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The dose-response experiment was performed with various concentrations of chitosan-cholesterol α-MSH nanoconjugates to decipher the degree of the bactericidal effect. The concentration of α-MSH as low as 1 pM also shows significant inhibition of bacterial growth (∼40% growth inhibition) of Staphylococcus aureus. Despite playing an important role in inhibiting bacterial growth, our investigation on hemolytic assay shows that chitosan-cholesterol α-MSH is significantly nontoxic at a wide range of concentrations. In a nutshell, our analysis demonstrated novel antimicrobial activity of nanoparticle-conjugated α-MSH, which could be used as future therapeutics against multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other types of bacterial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12865-12877
Number of pages13
JournalACS Omega
Issue number14
StatePublished - 11 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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