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Bioelectrochromic hydrogel for fast antibiotic-susceptibility testing

Pujol-Vila, Ferran, Dietvorst, Jiri, Gall-Mas, Laura, Díaz-González, María, Vigués, Núria, Mas, Jordi, Muñoz-Berbel, Xavier
Journal of colloid and interface science 2018 v.511 pp. 251-258
alginates, ambient temperature, antibiotics, aqueous solutions, bacteria, biobased products, color, environmental monitoring, eyes, hydrogels, ions, iron, metabolism, oxidation, pH, public health
Materials science offers new perspectives in the clinical analysis of antimicrobial sensitivity. However, a biomaterial with the capacity to respond to living bacteria has not been developed to date. We present an electrochromic iron(III)-complexed alginate hydrogel sensitive to bacterial metabolism, here applied to fast antibiotic-susceptibility determination. Bacteria under evaluation are entrapped –and pre-concentrated- in the hydrogel matrix by oxidation of iron (II) ions to iron (III) and in situ formation of the alginate hydrogel in less than 2min and in soft experimental conditions (i.e. room temperature, pH 7, aqueous solution). After incubation with the antibiotic (10min), ferricyanide is added to the biomaterial. Bacteria resistant to the antibiotic dose remain alive and reduce ferricyanide to ferrocyanide, which reacts with the iron (III) ions in the hydrogel to produce Prussian Blue molecules. For a bacterial concentration above 10⁷ colony forming units per mL colour development is detectable with the bare eye in less than 20min. The simplicity, sensitivity, low-cost and short response time of the biomaterial and the assay envisages a high impact of these approaches on sensitive sectors such as public health system, food and beverage industries or environmental monitoring.