The disruption of homeostasis in the gut microbiota has been known to play a crucial role in the development of multiple health conditions including colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The unique properties of GO, such as its high specific surface area, mechanical strength and easy functionality, make it attractive in biomedical applications to combat this. Recognizing this, a research team led by Weiyue Feng at the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in China, investigated the interactions between GO and five common human gut bacterial strains, including B. adolescentis, L. acidophilus, E. faecalis, E. coli and S. aureus.

Antagonistic effects of B. adolescentis

The GO sheets were biocompatible and had no significant influence on the morphology and membrane integrity of the gut bacteria in normal bacterial cell media. They were able to form effective, anaerobic membrane scaffolds to promote bacterial adhesion and proliferation, particularly for B. adolescentis. Moreover, when pathogens E. coli and S. aureus were treated with GO co-cultured B. adolescentis, GO showed significant enhancement of B. adolescentis proliferation and antagonistic effects against E. coli and S. aureus.

Probiotic optimization

The optimization of the composition of probiotics (e.g. B. adolescentis, Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria) in the intestinal microflora may positively influence the gut flora to inhibit pathogenic colonization, affect the mucosal barrier and stimulate the immune system to protect human health.

This study indicates that GO sheets are beneficial in biomedical applications including drug carriers for intestinal systems, and application in gut microbiota-related drug discovery and therapeutic strategies to fight against human diseases.

More information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology 25 165101.

Further reading

Graphene-polymer nanocomposite kills bacteria on surfaces(Sept 2012)
Nanoparticle assembly on graphene oxide sheet strengthens fight against bacteria (July 2013)
Nanographene oxide destroys tumours (Nov 2013)