Chemosorption of radiometals of interest to nuclear medicine by synthetic melanins

Robertha C. Howell, Andrew D. Schweitzer, Arturo Casadevall, Ekaterina A. Dadachova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Introduction: Melanins are high-molecular-weight pigments that are ubiquitous in nature and can also be synthesized in the laboratory from a variety of precursors. Melanins possess numerous interesting physicochemical characteristics, including electromagnetic radiation absorption properties and ability to chelate metals. We have recently reported that melanin has remarkable ionizing-radiation-shielding properties, possibly because it can interact with photons via Compton scattering. We hypothesized that, if administered internally, melanin could play a beneficial role by scavenging various radionuclides, in addition to radiation shielding. Methods: Three melanins were synthesized from dopamine, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-Dopa) and a combination of l-cysteine and l-Dopa. For control, synthetic melanin made from tyrosine polymerization (Sigma) was used. Melanins were characterized by elemental analysis. The chemosorption of 111In, 225Ac and 213Bi by melanins was studied at 37°C for up to 48 h. Results: The C-to-N molar ratios for dopamine, l-Dopa and tyrosine melanins were very close at 7.92, 8.39 and 8.48, respectively, while in mixed l-cysteine/l-Dopa melanin, that ratio was much lower at 3.63. This mixed melanin also contained 22.33% sulfur, thus confirming incorporation of S-containing motifs into its structure. Dopamine, l-Dopa and tyrosine melanins were very similar in their abilities to decrease the activity of 111In, 225Ac and 213Bi and their radioactive daughters in supernatants by >10-fold in comparison with the starting levels, while mixed l-cysteine/l-Dopa melanin was able to chemosorb only 111In. Conclusions: We have demonstrated that synthetic melanins made of diverse precursors can chemosorb 111In, 213Bi and 225Ac, with dopamine, l-Dopa and tyrosine melanins being the most efficient towards all three of these radionuclides. Such properties of synthetic melanins can contribute to the development of the novel melanin-based radioprotective materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-357
Number of pages5
JournalNuclear Medicine and Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • 111-Indium
  • 213-Bismuth
  • 225-Actinium
  • Chemosorption
  • Melanin
  • Radiological attack

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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