A Robust Fungal Allomelanin Mimic: An Antioxidant and Potent π-Electron Donor with Free-Radical Properties that can be Tuned by Ionic Liquids

Chempluschem. 2019 Sep;84(9):1331-1337. doi: 10.1002/cplu.201900195. Epub 2019 Jun 6.


Developing effective strategies to increase the chemical stability and to fine-tune the physico-chemical properties of melanin biopolymers by rational control of π-electron conjugation is an important goal in materials science for biomedical and technological applications. Herein we report that poly-1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (pDHN), a non-nitrogenous, catechol-free fungal melanin mimic, displays a high degree of structural integrity (from MALDI-MS and CP/MAS 13 C NMR analysis), a strong radical scavenging capacity (DPPH and FRAP assays), and an unusually intense EPR signal (g=2.0030). Morphological and spectral characterization of pDHN, along with deassembly experiments in ionic liquids, indicated amorphous aggregates of small globular structures with an estimated stacking distance of 3.9 Å and broadband absorption throughout the visible range. These results indicate that DHN-based melanins exhibit a high structural integrity and enhanced antioxidant and free-radical properties of potentially greater biomedical and technological relevance than for typical indole-based eumelanins.

Keywords: allomelanins; antioxidants; electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy; free radicals; ionic liquids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't