Inorganic nanoparticles enhance the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during the autoxidation of l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-dopa)

Antonia Luna-Velasco, Jim A. Field, Angel Cobo-Curiel, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Public concerns over the toxicity of nanoparticles (NPs) are growing due to the rapid development of nanotechnology. An important mechanism of nanotoxicity is oxidative stress resulting from reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this study, the chemical production of ROS by inorganic NPs oxidizing the mammalian phenolic compound, l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-dopa) was evaluated using a ROS sensitive dye, 2',7'-diclorodihydrofluorescin (DCFH). CeO 2, Fe 2O 3 and Fe 0 NPs enhanced ROS production during the autoxidation of l-dopa by more than four-fold in reactions that were dependent on O 2. This is the first report of chemical ROS production due to interaction of phenolic compounds with NPs. Mn 2O 3 oxidized DCFH in a reaction that did not require O 2 or l-dopa, suggesting a direct redox reaction between the Mn 2O 3 and the dye. CeO 2, Mn 2O 3 and to a lesser extent Fe 0 formed clear electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) signature for hydroxyl radicals when incubated in aerobic aqueous suspensions with spin traps. The results indicate that NPs can generate ROS via chemical reactions with medium components and biomolecules susceptible to oxidation, such as l-dopa. NPs were reactive whereas micron-sized particles were not. The combined assay with l-dopa and DCFH is a method proposed to screen for chemical ROS production by NPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011



  • Engineered nanomaterials
  • Metal oxides
  • Nanotoxicity
  • Oxygen radicals
  • Phenols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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