Potent antioxidant dendrimers lacking pro-oxidant activity

Jae Eun Cheong, Choon Young Lee, Ajit Sharma, Hao Xu, Rebecca Lynne Uzarski, Samik K Upadhaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well known that antioxidants have protective effects against oxidative stress. Unfortunately, in the presence of transition metals, antioxidants including polyphenols with potent antioxidant activities may also exhibit pro-oxidant effects, which may irreversibly damage DNA. Therefore, antioxidants with strong free radical scavenging abilities and devoid of pro-oxidant effects would be of immense biological importance. We report two antioxidant dendrimers with a surface rich in multiple phenolic hydroxyl groups, benzylic hydrogens and electron donating ring substituents that contribute to their potent free radical quenching property. In order to minimize their pro-oxidant effects, the dendrimers were designed with a metal chelating tris(2-aminoethyl)amine (TREN) core. The dendritic antioxidants were prepared by attachment of six syringaldehyde or vanillin molecules to TREN by reductive amination. They exhibited potent radical scavenging properties: 5 times stronger than quercetin and 15 times more potent than Trolox according to the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay. The antioxidant dendrimers also protected low-density lipoprotein, lysozyme and DNA against 2,2'-azobis(2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride (AAPH)-induced free radical damage. More importantly, unlike quercetin and Trolox, the two TREN antioxidant dendrimers did not damage DNA via their pro-oxidant effects when incubated with physiological amounts of copper ions. The dendrimers also showed no cytotoxicity towards Chinese hamster ovary cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)918-925
JournalFree Radical Biology & Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 23 2010


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