Tailoring Enzyme-Like Activities of Gold Nanoclusters by Polymeric Tertiary Amines for Protecting Neurons Against Oxidative Stress

Ching Ping Liu, Te Haw Wu, Yu Lung Lin, Chia Yeh Liu, Sabrina Wang, Shu Yi Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


The cytotoxicity of nanozymes has drawn much attention recently because their peroxidase-like activity can decompose hydrogen peroxide (H2 O2 ) to produce highly toxic hydroxyl radicals (•OH) under acidic conditions. Although catalytic activities of nanozymes are highly associated with their surface properties, little is known about the mechanism underlying the surface coating-mediated enzyme-like activities. Herein, it is reported for the first time that amine-terminated PAMAM dendrimer-entrapped gold nanoclusters (AuNCs-NH2 ) unexpectedly lose their peroxidase-like activity while still retaining their catalase-like activity in physiological conditions. Surprisingly, the methylated form of AuNCs-NH2 (i.e., MAuNCs-N(+) R3 , where R = H or CH3 ) results in a dramatic recovery of the intrinsic peroxidase-like activity while blocking most primary and tertiary amines (1°- and 3°-amines) of dendrimers to form quaternary ammonium ions (4°-amines). However, the hidden peroxidase-like activity is also found in hydroxyl-terminated dendrimer-encapsulated AuNCs (AuNCs-OH, inside backbone with 3°-amines), indicating that 3°-amines are dominant in mediating the peroxidase-like activity. The possible mechanism is further confirmed that the enrichment of polymeric 3°-amines on the surface of dendrimer-encapsulated AuNCs provides sufficient suppression of the critical mediator •OH for the peroxidase-like activity. Finally, it is demonstrated that AuNCs-NH2 with diminished cytotoxicity have great potential for use in primary neuronal protection against oxidative damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4127-4135
Number of pages9
JournalSmall (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • catalase
  • dendrimer
  • gold nanoclusters
  • peroxidase
  • surface properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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