Tetrahedral (T) Closed-Shell Cluster of 29 Silver Atoms & 12 Lipoate Ligands, [Ag29(R-α-LA)12](3-): Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity

Priscilla Lopez, Humberto H. Lara, Sean M. Mullins, David M. Black, Heidi M. Ramsower, Marcos M. Alvarez, Tayler L. Williams, Xochitl Lopez-Lozano, Hans Christian Weissker, A. Patricio García, Ignacio L. Garzón, Borries Demeler, José Luis Lopez-Ribot, Miguel José Yacamán, Robert L. Whetten

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28 Scopus citations


Here we report on the identification and applications of an aqueous 29-atom silver cluster stabilized with 12 lipoate ligands, i.e. Ag29(R-α-LA)12 or (29,12), wherein R-α-LA = R-α-lipoic acid, a natural dithiolate. Its uniformity is checked by HPLC-ESI-MS and analytical ultracentrifugation, which confirms its small dimension (∼3 nm hydrodynamic diameter). For the first time, this cluster has been detected intact via electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, allowing one to confirm its composition, its [3-] charge-state, and the 8-electron shell configuration of its metallic silver core. Its electronic structure and bonding, including T-symmetry and profound chirality in the outer shell, have been analyzed by DFT quantum-chemical calculations, starting from the known structure of a nonaqueous homologue. The cluster is effective against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) at a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 0.6 mg-Ag/mL. A preformed Candida albicans fungal biofilm, impermeable to other antifungal agents, was also inhibited by aqueous solutions of this cluster, in a dose-response manner, with a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 0.94 mg-Ag/mL. Scanning electron micrographs showed the post-treatment ultrastructural changes on both MRSA and C. albicans that are characteristic of those displayed after treatment by larger silver nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1595-1602
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 27 2018


  • Ag
  • analytical ultracentrifugation
  • antibiotic
  • electrospray ionization mass spectrometry
  • lipoic acid
  • silver clusters


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