Relationship between the Antifungal Activity of Chitosan–Capsaicin Nanoparticles and the Oxidative Stress Response on Aspergillus parasiticus

Cynthia Nazareth Hernández-Téllez, Ana Guadalupe Luque-Alcaraz*, Sahily Alejandra Núñez-Mexía, Mario Onofre Cortez-Rocha, Jaime Lizardi-Mendoza, Ema Carina Rosas-Burgos, Aarón de Jesús Rosas-Durazo, Norma Violeta Parra-Vergara, Maribel Plascencia-Jatomea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The fungus Aspergillus parasiticus is a contaminant in agricultural crops and its eradication involves the indiscriminate use of harmful synthetic pesticides. In the search for antifungal agents of natural origin, chitosan (Q) and capsaicin (C) are coupled in the form of nanoparticles (Np), which can possess a direct application under specific conditions. Due to their small size, Np can cross through the cell wall, taking the cells into a pro-oxidant environment known as “oxidative stress”, which presents when the reactive oxygen species (ROS) surpass the number of antioxidants in the cell. In the present investigation, nanoparticles of chitosan (Np Q) and nanoparticles of chitosan-capsaicin (Np QC) with an average diameter of 44.8 ± 20.6 nm and 111.1 ± 14.1 nm, respectively, were synthesized, and there was a zeta potential of + 25.6 ± 0.7 mV and + 26.8 ± 6.1 mV, respectively. The effect of the concentration of Np Q (A, B, C, and D), of Np QC (A, B, C, and D), and capsaicin in a solution (control) was evaluated on the viability of the spores, the accumulation of intracellular ROS, and the morphometric changes of A. parasiticus. Acute toxicity of the Np was determined utilizing bioassays with Artemia salina, and acute phytotoxicity was evaluated in lettuce seeds (Lactuca sativa). According to ROS results, capsaicin (control) did not induce oxidative stress in the cell; otherwise, it was observed to have an elevated (p < 0.05) accumulation of ROS when the concentration of Np Q increased. For both, Np Q and Np QC, an inverse physiological pattern relating spore viability and ROS accumulation in the fungus was found; the viability of spores decreased as the ROS accumulation increased. The spore viability of A. parasiticus diminished upon increasing the concentration of chitosan (0.3–0.4 mg/mL) in the Np, while the intracellular accumulation of ROS increased proportionally to the concentration of the nanomaterials in the treatments of Np Q and Np QC. On the other hand, Np QC presented a lower (p < 0.05) toxicological effect in comparison with Np Q, which indicates that the incorporation of bioactive compounds, such as capsaicin, into nanoparticles of chitosan is a strategy that permits the reduction of the toxicity associated with nanostructured materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2774
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • acute toxicity
  • bioactive compounds
  • biopolymer
  • nanomaterials
  • phytopathogenic fungi


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