Water Soluble Antioxidant Dextran-Quercetin Conjugate with Potential Anticancer Properties

Macromol Biosci. 2018 Apr;18(4):e1700239. doi: 10.1002/mabi.201700239. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Quercetin, a naturally occurring potent antioxidant, is limited in therapeutic use, owing to its poor water solubility and stability. Herein, a method of conjugating quercetin to an aldehyde functionalized dextran via an HCl catalyzed condensation reaction to yield a water soluble quercetin functionalized polymer is reported. The prepared conjugate is characterized by 1 H and 1 H-13 C heteronuclear single quantum correlation (HSQC) NMR, which demonstrate that conjugation occurs via both the A- and B-rings of quercetin. The degree of quercetin functionalization can be tuned by varying the reaction temperature and/or the concentration of the HCl catalyst. However, as temperatures and HCl concentrations are increased above 40 °C and 2 m, respectively, the increase in functionalization is accompanied by an increase in the oxidation of the conjugated quercetin and a decrease in polymer yield. The prepared conjugate is shown to have improved stability compared with native quercetin while maintaining substantial free-radical scavenging activity. Anticancer activity is evaluated in vitro in a neuroblastoma cell line. The dextran-aldehyde-quercetin conjugate prepared at 40 °C and 2 m HCl is shown to be cytotoxic to neuroblastoma cells (SH-SY5Y-IC50 = 123 µg mL-1 and BE(2)-C-IC50 = 380 µg mL-1 ) but shows no activity against nonmalignant MRC-5 cells at concentrations up to 400 µg mL-1 .

Keywords: dextran; dextran-aldehyde; neuroblastoma; quercetin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dextrans / chemistry
  • Dextrans / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Quercetin / chemistry
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • Water / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Dextrans
  • Water
  • Quercetin