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Logo of bioinorgchemapplBioinorganic Chemistry and Applications
Bioinorg Chem Appl. 2012; 2012: 361803.
Published online 2012 April 26. doi:  10.1155/2012/361803
PMCID: PMC3350951

Melanin-Based Coatings as Lead-Binding Agents


Interactions between metal ions and different forms of melanin play significant roles in melanin biochemistry. The binding properties of natural melanin and related synthetic materials can be exploited for nonbiological applications, potentially including water purification. A method for investigating metal ion-melanin interactions on solid support is described, with lead as the initial target. 2.5 cm discs of the hydrophobic polymer PVDF were coated with synthetic eumelanin from the tyrosinase-catalyzed polymerization of L-dopa, and with melanin extracted from human hair. Lead (Pb2+) binding was quantified by atomic absorption spectroscopy (flame mode), and the data was well fit by the Langmuir model. Langmuir affinities ranged from 3.4 · 103 to 2.2 · 104 M−1. At the maximum capacity observed, the synthetic eumelanin coating bound ~9% of its mass in lead. Binding of copper (Cu2+), zinc (Zn2+), and cadmium (Cd2+) to the synthetic-eumelanin-coated discs was also investigated. Under the conditions tested, the Langmuir affinities for Zn2+, Cd2+, and Cu2+ were 35%, 53%, and 77%, respectively, of the Langmuir affinity for Pb2+. The synthetic-eumelanin-coated discs have a slightly higher capacity for Cu2+ on a per mole basis than for Pb2+, and lower capacities for Cd2+ and Zn2+. The system described can be used to address biological questions and potentially be applied toward melanin-based water purification.

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