Binding of ciprofloxacin by humic substances: A molecular dynamics study

Ludmilla Aristilde*, Garrison Sposito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


A comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of antimicrobials released into the environment requires an understanding of their sequestration by natural particles. Of particular interest are the strong interactions of antimicrobials with natural organic matter (NOM), which are believed to reduce their bioavailability, retard their abiotic and biotic degradation, and facilitate their persistence in soils and aquatic sediments. Molecular dynamics (MD) relaxation studies of a widely used fluoroquinolone antibiotic, ciprofloxacin (Cipro), interacting with a model humic substance (HS) in a hydrated environment, were performed to elucidate the mechanisms of these interactions. Specifically, a zwitterionic Cipro molecule, the predominant species at circumneutral pH, was reacted either with protonated HS or deprotonated HS bearing Ca, Mg, or Fe(II) cations. The HS underwent conformational changes through rearrangements of its hydrophobic and hydrophilic regions and disruption of its intramolecular H-bonds to facilitate favorable intermolecular H-bonding interactions with Cipro. Complexation of the metal cations with HS carboxylates appeared to impede binding of the positively charged amino group of Cipro with these negatively charged HS complexation sites. On the other hand, an outer-sphere complex between Cipro and the HS-bound cation led to ternary Cipro-metal-HS complexes in the case of Mg-HS and Fe(II)-HS, but no such bridging interaction occurred with Ca-HS. The results suggested that the ionic potential (valence/ionic radius) of the divalent cation may be a determining factor in the formation of the ternary complex, with high ionic potential favoring the bridging interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-98
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Fluoroquinolone
  • Modeling
  • Soil
  • Sorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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