Structures and mechanisms in clay nanopore trapping of structurally-different fluoroquinolone antimicrobials

Fanny E.K. Okaikue-Woodi, Sabrina E. Kelch, Michael P. Schmidt, Carmen Enid Martinez, Randall E. Youngman, Ludmilla Aristilde*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Smectite clay nanoparticles are implicated in the retention of antimicrobials within soils and sediments; these clays are also inspected as drug carriers in physiological systems. Cation exchange is considered the primary adsorption mechanism of antimicrobials within smectite nanopores. However, a dual role of acid-base chemistry and adsorptive structures is speculated by recent studies. Using the prototypical smectite clay montmorillonite, we employed a combination of X-ray diffraction (XRD), nuclear magnetic resonance, attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the interlayer nanopore trapping of two structurally-different fluoroquinolone (FQ) antimicrobials with similar acid-base chemistry: ciprofloxacin (a first-generation FQ) and moxifloxacin (a third-generation FQ). Greater sorption at pH 5.0 than at pH 7.0 for both FQs was consistent with cation-exchange of positively-charged species. However, the clay exhibited a near twofold higher sorption capacity for moxifloxacin than for ciprofloxacin. This difference was shown by the XRD data to be accompanied by enhanced trapping of moxifloxacin within the clay interlayers. Using the XRD-determined nanopore sizes, we performed molecular dynamics simulations of thermodynamically-favorable model adsorbates, which revealed that ciprofloxacin was adsorbed parallel to the clay surface but moxifloxacin adopted a tilted conformation across the nanopore. These conformations resulted in more slowly-exchanged than quickly-exchanged Na complexes with ciprofloxacin compared with moxifloxacin. These different Na populations were also captured by 23Na nuclear magnetic resonance. Furthermore, the simulated adsorbates uncovered different complexation interactions that were corroborated by infrared spectroscopy. Therefore, beyond acid-base chemistry, our findings imply that distinct adsorbate structures control antimicrobial trapping within clay nanopores, which can promote persistence in environmental matrices and stable delivery in biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Antimicrobial fate
  • Clay minerals
  • Interlayer adsorption
  • Montmorillonite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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