Various novel strategies for functionalization of gold and silver nanoparticles to hinder drug-resistant bacteria and cancer cells

Document Type : Narrative Review


1 Nanobiotechnology Department, Faculty of Innovative Science and Technology, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran; Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Iran

2 Department of Analysis and Food Quality Assessment, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, 8 Skromna Str., 20-704 Lublin, Poland

3 Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

4 Department of Biological Chemistry, Regional University of Cariri – Brazil

5 Pharmacology and Molecular Chemistry Laboratory, Department of Chemical Biology, Regional University of Cariri, CEP 63105-000, Crato, Ceara, Brazil


A higher reactivity of nanomaterials specifically inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) compared to their counterparts, is caused by their unique physicochemical properties in the nanoscale such as large surface area to volume ratio and aspect ratio. In the case of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs), gold (Au) and silver (Ag) NPs have been known to have appropriate therapeutic activities particularly anticancer and antimicrobial effects against a wide range of multidrug-resistant bacteria and cancer cells. However, low biocompatibility, bioavailability, and biodegradability in antibacterial and anticancer doses of these NPs are main hindrances to obtain an efficient safe formulation. For optimizing the micro and nano formulations, functionalization of the surface of Ag and Au NPs by biocompatible organic or inorganic materials has been applied in recent investigations. Therefore, in this review, various novel strategies to functionalize Au and Ag NPs particularly to hinder drug-resistant cancer cells and bacteria, have been discussed. In the term of an effective anticancer formulation, side effects of chemotherapeutic agents may be attenuated via employing multifunctional micro and nano agents composed of anticancer drugs, biocompatible materials and Au or Ag NPs.

Graphical Abstract

Various novel strategies for functionalization of gold and silver nanoparticles to hinder drug-resistant bacteria and cancer cells


  • Surface functionalization of Ag and Au NPs by secondary metabolites of plants, bacteria, fungi, and lichens can be a safe method.
  • Production of ROS by Au and Ag NPs at high doses can damage the biological macromolecules such as nucleic acids, proteins, and enzymes.
  • At low doses of Au and Ag NPs, there are low cytotoxicity and activation of cell signaling.
  • Effective antibacterial and anticancer activities of these NPs in low doses can be possible using the surface functionalization by the natural compounds.


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