SCIENCE CHINA Materials, Volume 62 , Issue 11 : 1727-1739(2019) https://doi.org/10.1007/s40843-019-9471-7

Antibacterial mechanism and activity of cerium oxide nanoparticles

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  • ReceivedMay 15, 2019
  • AcceptedJul 1, 2019
  • PublishedAug 12, 2019


Funded by

the National Funds for Excellent Young Scientists of China(21522106)

the National Key R&D Program of China(2017YFA0208000)

the 111 Project(B18030)


We gratefully acknowledge the support from the National Funds for Excellent Young Scientists of China (21522106), the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFA0208000), and the 111 Project (B18030) from China.

Interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Contributions statement

Du Y and Yan C proposed the overall concept. Zhang M wrote the paper with the guidance from Du Y, Luo F and Zhai X; Zhang M, Zhang C and Zhai X revised the manuscript. All authors contributed to the general discussion.

Author information

Mengzhen Zhang is a PhD student at the School of Chemistry, Nankai University. Her research interest focuses on the rare earth based functional materials.

Xinyun Zhai is a lecturer at the School of Material Science and Engineering, Nankai University. She received her BSc degree and MSc degree from Tianjin University in 2010 and 2013, respectively and PhD degree from The University of Hong Kong in 2017. Her research interests focus on rare-earth based biomedical materials and rare-earth based functional materials.

Yaping Du is a full professor at the School of Material Science and Engineering, Nankai University. He is the director of Tianjin Key Lab for Rare Earth Materials and Applications and Deputy Director of the Centre for Rare Earth and Inorganic Functional Materials. His research interests focus on rare-earth functional materials. He has more than 90 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and was a winner of the National Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars in 2015. He received his BSc degree from Lanzhou University in 2004 and PhD degree from Peking University in 2009.

Chunhua Yan is the President of Lanzhou University and the Director of the State Key Laboratory of Rare Earth Materials Chemistry and Applications at Peking University, and the Center for Rare Earth and Inorganic Functional Materials at Nankai University. He received his BSc, MSc, and PhD degrees from Peking University.


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  • Figure 1

    Schematic of the standard picture of charge redistribution following the formation of an oxygen vacancy in CeO2. The tetrahedron of Ce atoms (black circles) with an O atom at its center (grey (orange in color version) circle) is shown along with the charges on these atoms in the simple ionic picture description of CeO2. The process of reduction shown by the arrow leads to a neutral O vacancy at the center of the tetrahedron (empty circle) while two of the Ce ions have been reduced to the III oxidation state. Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [35]. Copyright 2010, Institute of Physics Science.

  • Figure 2

    The process of oxygen-vacancy formation in ceria. An oxygen atom moves away from its lattice position leaving behind two electrons, which localize on two cerium atoms, turning Ce(IV) into Ce(III). Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [36]. Copyright 2002, American Physical Society.

  • Figure 3

    XPS of CeO2 nanocubes. Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [38]. Copyright 2014, Elsevier.

  • Figure 4

    Isotherm of adsorption of CeO2 NPs on E. coli bacteria. Insets show TEM observations of E. coli ultra microtomic thin sections before and after contact with 12 mg m−2 of adsorbed ceria. The scale bar is 0.1 μm. A zoom shows the multilayer of NPs at the cell outer membrane. Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [49]. Copyright 2006, American Chemical Society.

  • Figure 5

    Representative TEM images showing the interaction of E. coli and the B sample of cerium oxide NPs at different magnifications. The image shows the results of incubating NPs with logarithmic-phase growing bacteria for 30 min at 37°C with shaking, followed by placing a droplet on the TEM grid for 7 min, rinsing in water to remove unbound bacteria and particles, and imaging. Particles apparently stick to the bacterial surfaces but are not internalized by E. coli. Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [51]. Copyright 2010, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).

  • Figure 6

    ROS generation of Gram-negative bacteria P. aeruginosa (a) and Gram-positive bacteria S. epidermidis (b) per colony after treatment with 500 μg mL−1 nanoceria at pH 9 for 6 h. Values represent the mean +/−SEM, N = 3 and *p< 0.05 compared with the untreated control. Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [56]. Copyright 2017, Nature Publishing Group.

  • Figure 7

    Diagrammatic representation of toxicity of CeO2 NPs against bacterial pathogens.

  • Figure 8

    Zeta potential of 0.1 mol L−1 dextran coated cerium oxide NPs dispersed in PBS at pH 6 and pH 9. Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [56]. Copyright 2017, Nature Publishing Group.

  • Figure 9

    Zeta potential and dynamic light scattering measurements of the B sample of CeO2 NPs. The zeta potential of the B sample of CeO2 NPs in water and M9, B. subtilis minimal, and HBA media under different pH conditions are shown. Similar results were obtained with the other NP samples. Reproduced with the permission from Ref. [51]. Copyright 2010, ASM.

  • Table 1   Recent studies of antibacterial activities of CeO NPs against and

    Synthesis method

    Salt precursor

    Green raw materials

    Particle size

    Bacteria strains


    Electron microscopy (nm)

    FDS* and others


    E. coli

    S. aureus










    Moringa oleifera peel extract




















    Olea europaea leaf extract





    Pectin fruit peel, Citrus maxima







    Gloriosa superba L. leaf extract





    Aspergillus niger






    Acalypha indica leaf extract





















    Watermelon juice






    Leaf extractLeucas aspera











    TEM; S) scanning electron microscopy; *) Debye-Scherrer formula; X) X-ray scattering at a low angle; D) dynamic light scattering; source: original source.


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