Nanoparticles of Cerium Oxide Having Potent Antioxidant or Superoxide Dismutase Activity

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Line graphs of SOD mimetic activity of ceria nanoparticles assayed using ferricytochrome C
Sudipta Seal, Ph.D.
William Self, Ph.D.
Managed By
Andrea Adkins
Assistant Director 407.823.0138
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Nanoparticles of cerium oxide having superoxide dismutase activity

US Patent 7,504,356 B1

A method of making a synthetic catalyst (cerium oxide nanoparticles) having superoxide dismutase activity and the uses thereof

Superoxide, like most free radicals, can cause significant damage to cells and tissue that it comes in contact with. The human body produces an enzyme called super-oxide dismutase (SOD) which acts as a free radical scavenger. SOD breaks down superoxide into hydrogen peroxide through a redox-dependent reaction. Cerium oxide has been observed to act as a SOD mimetic by carrying out a similar redox reaction with the free radical. It does so by transitioning between its trivalent (+3) and tetravalent (+4) state, a property unique to this rare earth element.

Technical Details

The invention incorporates cerium oxide into nanoparticles to create a more efficient synthetic self-regenerating catalyst for the conversion of superoxide to hydrogen peroxide. The valence structure of cerium oxide is dynamic and may change spontaneously or in response to physical parameters, such as the presence of a reactive oxygen species. It is hypothesized that for this reason cerium oxide nanoparticles exhibit several desirable therapeutic characteristics, including: potent antioxidant properties, prolonging neuronal cell life and protecting cells against UV radiation. Studies have concluded that cerium oxide nanoparticles are non-toxic to keratinocytes (the cells that make up the majority of our skin). This data provides evidence that these particles could be formed into a skin cancer preventive cream that helps fight off the effects of the sun’s damaging UV radiation. Additionally, such properties would be beneficial for protecting the body against the effects of other sources of radiation, including those which are utilized in various cancer treatments.


  • Prolongs neuronal cell life and protects cells against oxidative stress
  • Displays higher catalytic rates than natural superoxide dismutase
  • Particle synthesis method is simplistic and relatively inexpensive
  • Can be easily incorporated into existing sun protection products


  • Therapeutics
  • Industrial catalysts
  • Prevention of several forms of skin cancer