Bioinspired Applications of Porphyrin Derivatives

Jong Min Park, Kyeong Im Hong, Hosoowi Lee, Woo Dong Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


ConspectusPorphyrin derivatives are ubiquitous in nature and have important biological roles, such as in light harvesting, oxygen transport, and catalysis. Owing to their intrinsic π-conjugated structure, porphyrin derivatives exhibit characteristic photophysical and electrochemical properties. In biological systems, porphyrin derivatives are associated with various protein molecules through noncovalent interactions. For example, hemoglobin, which is responsible for oxygen transport in most vertebrates, consists of four subunits of a globular protein with an iron porphyrin derivative prosthetic group. Furthermore, noncovalently arranged porphyrin derivatives are the fundamental chromophores in light-harvesting systems for photosynthesis in plants and algae. These biologically important roles originate from the functional versatility of porphyrin derivatives. Specifically, porphyrins are excellent host compounds, forming coordination complexes with various metal ions that adds functionality to the porphyrin unit, such as redox activity and additional ligand binding at the central metal ion. In addition, porphyrins are useful building blocks for functional supramolecular assemblies because of their flat and symmetrical molecular architectures, and their excellent photophysical properties are typically utilized for the fabrication of bioactive functional materials. In this Account, we summarize our endeavors over the past decade to develop functional materials based on porphyrin derivatives using bioinspired approaches. In the first section, we discuss several synthetic receptors that act as artificial allosteric host systems and can be used for the selective detection of various chemicals, such as cyanide, chloride, and amino acids. In the second section, we introduce multiporphyrin arrays as mimics of natural light-harvesting complexes. The active control of energy transfer processes by additional guest binding and the fabrication of organic photovoltaic devices using porphyrin derivatives are also introduced. In the third section, we introduce several types of porphyrin-based supramolecular assemblies. Through noncovalent interactions such as metal-ligand interaction, hydrogen bonding, and π-πinteraction, porphyrin derivatives were constructed as supramolecular polymers with formation of fiber or toroidal assembly. In the last section, the application of porphyrin derivatives for biomedical nanodevice fabrication is introduced. Even though porphyrins were good candidates as photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy, they have limitations for biomedical application owing to aggregation in aqueous media. We suggested ionic dendrimer porphyrins and they showed excellent photodynamic therapy (PDT) efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2249-2260
Number of pages12
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 4

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Mid-Career Researcher Program (2020R1A2C3004520) funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea and Postdoc Researcher Supporting Program (project no.: 2020-12-0026) funded by Yonsei University.

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)


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