The photo-oxidative stress in aqueous milieus can readily be generated in the presence of newly synthesized highly derivatized fullerenes (fullerols) reported in the Full Paper by Vileno and co-workers on p. 120. Their basic structural and photophysical properties were characterized using a range of methods, including X-ray photoelectron and IR spectroscopies, and electron spin resonance. Moreover, a significant drop of the local stiffness of a living cell was monitored using atomic force microscopy. This cell softening was attributed to the early effects of the photo-oxidative stress.
Hydroxylated C60 molecules, also called fullerols, are a class of water-soluble fullerenes. Here we report the synthesis in acidic conditions of a highly derivatized fullerol (up to 36 carbons per C60 are oxidized). Spectroscopic investigations (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and infrared absorption) highlight the coexistence of both acidic and basic forms for the hydroxyl addends of derivatized C60. pH titrimetry reveals that, at millimolar concentrations, only ten protons per fullerol molecule are labile. Such a low value, as compared to 36 hydroxyl groups, is explained by the formation of clusters. A UV-vis absorption study performed over a large range of concentrations also points to the aggregation phenomenon. Moreover, this study shows that the clusters of fullerols appear at relatively low (micromolar) concentrations. An electron spin resonance (ESR) study, based on the attack of singlet oxygen (1Δg) on 2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-4-piperidinol (TMP-OH), has proved the potential of hydroxylated C60 for performing efficient generation of singlet oxygen in aqueous solution. ESR measurements, which allow detection and quantification of 1Δg, have also revealed the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The yield of generation of 1Δg and ROS is strongly correlated to the concentration of fullerol, thus also pointing to the aggregation of fullerol molecules. Exposing glioblastoma cells to oxidative stress in the presence of hydroxylated C60 and visible light has also been performed. Atomic force microscopy is used to monitor the relevant diminishment of the Young's modulus values for cells exposed to the oxidative stress. These results point to a possible application field of fullerols for performing bio-oxidations.