Characterization of phenolic acid antimicrobial and antioxidant structure–property relationships

Jingyi Liu, Changling Du, Henry T. Beaman, Mary Beth B. Monroe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Plant-derived phenolic acids (PAs) are small molecules with antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pro-coagulant properties. Their chemistry enables facile potential incorporation into biomaterial scaffolds to provide naturally-derived functionalities that could improve healing outcomes. While PAs have been previously characterized, their structure-property relationships in terms of antioxidant and antimicrobial properties are not well-understood, particularly in the context of their use in medical applications. To that end, a library of PAs with varied pendant groups was characterized here. It was found that increasing the number of radical-scavenging hydroxyl and methoxy groups on PAs increased antioxidant properties. All PAs showed some antimicrobial activity against the selected bacteria strains (Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus epidermidis (native and drug-resistant), and Staphylococcus aureus (native and drug-resistant)) at concentrations that are feasible for incorporation into polymeric biomaterials. In general, a trend of slightly decreased antimicrobial efficacy with increased number of pendant hydroxyl and methoxy groups was observed. The carboxylic acid group of a selection of PAs was modified with a polyurethane monomer analog. Modification did not greatly affect antioxidant or antimicrobial properties in comparison to unmodified controls, indicating that the carboxylic acid group of PAs can be altered without losing functionality. These results could be utilized for rational selection of phenolic moieties for use as therapeutics on their own or as part of a biomaterial scaffold with desired healing outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number419
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial
  • Antioxidant
  • Phenolic acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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