Radical-Enriched Artificial Melanin

Wei Cao, Alex J. Mantanona, Haochuan Mao, Naneki C. McCallum, Yang Jiao, Claudia Battistella, Valeria Caponetti, Nanzhi Zang, Matthew P. Thompson, Marco Montalti, J. Fraser Stoddart, Michael R. Wasielewski, Jeffrey D. Rinehart*, Nathan C. Gianneschi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Melanin is a class of ubiquitous, heterogeneous, polymeric pigments. One of the most unusual features of melanin is the presence of stable persistent radicals, which has been reported to relate to ionizing radiation protection, including X-rays and gamma rays. In this work, we aimed to increase the radical content by introducing nitroxide radicals into synthetic melanin nanomaterials. Nanoparticles (NPs) were prepared by copolymerization of a stable radical modified monomer with the monomer dopamine. The radical content increased to 1 order of magnitude higher than that of the conventional melanin-like material, polydopamine. These radical NPs can enter human epidermal keratinocytes and form perinuclear caps, mimicking natural melanin synthesized by melanocytes. We demonstrated that these NPs display protective properties by scavenging reactive oxygen species, one of the most important biological effects of ionizing radiation exposure. This finding may have potential application for materials capable of mitigating side effects of clinical radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5759-5767
Number of pages9
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 14 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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