Resonance Raman spectroscopy reveals new insight into the electronic structure of beta-hematin and malaria pigment

J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Aug 4;126(30):9233-9. doi: 10.1021/ja038691x.


Resonance Raman spectra of beta-hematin and hemin are reported for a range of excitation wavelengths including 406, 488, 514, 568, 633, 780, 830, and 1064 nm. Dramatic enhancement of A(1g) modes (1570, 1371, 795, 677, and 344 cm(-1)), ring breathing modes (850-650 cm(-1)), and out-of-plane modes including iron-ligand modes (400-200 cm(-1)) were observed when irradiating with 780- and 830-nm laser excitation wavelengths for beta-hematin and to a lesser extent hemin. Absorbance spectra recorded during the transformation of hemin to beta-hematin showed a red-shift of the Soret and Q (0-1) bands, which has been interpreted as excitonic coupling resulting from porphyrin aggregation. A small broad electronic transition observed at 867 nm was assigned to a z-polarized charge-transfer transition d(xy) --> e(g)(pi). The extraordinary band enhancement observed when exciting with near-infrared excitation wavelengths in beta-hematin when compared to hemin is explained in terms of an aggregated enhanced Raman scattering hypothesis based on the intermolecular excitonic interactions between porphyrinic units. This study provides new insight into the electronic structure of beta-hematin and therefore hemozoin (malaria pigment). The results have important implications in the design and testing of new anti-malaria drugs that specifically interfere with hemozoin formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hemeproteins / chemistry*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / chemistry
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman / methods*


  • Hemeproteins
  • hemozoin