Open Access Open Badges Research

Design and characterization of protein-quercetin bioactive nanoparticles

Ru Fang1, Hao Jing1*, Zhi Chai1, Guanghua Zhao1, Serge Stoll2, Fazheng Ren1, Fei Liu1 and Xiaojing Leng1*

Author Affiliations

1 CAU and ACC Joint Laboratory of Space Food, College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering, China Agricultural University, Key Laboratory of Functional Dairy Science of Beijing and the Ministry of Education, Beijing Higher Institution Engineering Research Center of Animal Product, No.17 Qinghua East Road, Haidian, Beijing 100083, China

2 Groupe de Physico-Chimie de L'Environnement, Institut Forel, Section des Sciences de la Terre et de l'Environnement, Université de Genève, 10, route de Suisse, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Nanobiotechnology 2011, 9:19  doi:10.1186/1477-3155-9-19

Published: 17 May 2011



The synthesis of bioactive nanoparticles with precise molecular level control is a major challenge in bionanotechnology. Understanding the nature of the interactions between the active components and transport biomaterials is thus essential for the rational formulation of bio-nanocarriers. The current study presents a single molecule of bovine serum albumin (BSA), lysozyme (Lys), or myoglobin (Mb) used to load hydrophobic drugs such as quercetin (Q) and other flavonoids.


Induced by dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), BSA, Lys, and Mb formed spherical nanocarriers with sizes less than 70 nm. After loading Q, the size was further reduced by 30%. The adsorption of Q on protein is mainly hydrophobic, and is related to the synergy of Trp residues with the molecular environment of the proteins. Seven Q molecules could be entrapped by one Lys molecule, 9 by one Mb, and 11 by one BSA. The controlled releasing measurements indicate that these bioactive nanoparticles have long-term antioxidant protection effects on the activity of Q in both acidic and neutral conditions. The antioxidant activity evaluation indicates that the activity of Q is not hindered by the formation of protein nanoparticles. Other flavonoids, such as kaempferol and rutin, were also investigated.


BSA exhibits the most remarkable abilities of loading, controlled release, and antioxidant protection of active drugs, indicating that such type of bionanoparticles is very promising in the field of bionanotechnology.