In recent years, lignin specific activities, such as antioxidation and antibacterial and anti-ultraviolet performance, have drawn more and more attention. Nevertheless, the insufficient radical scavenging (antioxidation) activity has become one of the main drawbacks that limits its high-value application. In this study, lignin nanoparticles (LNPs) were prepared via a facile acid treatment strategy. Subsequently, surface amination of LNPs (a-LNPs) was carried out through the Mannich reaction. Specifically, the antioxidant behavior of LNPs and modified LNPs was evaluated by DPPH/DMPO radical scavenging and in vitro HeLa cell reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging tests, which demonstrated that the antioxidation activity of a-LNPs was more evident than that of both LNPs and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) commercial antioxidant. The mechanism of the radical scavenging ability of aminated LNPs was elucidated and proved to be related to the bond dissociation enthalpy of Ar-O···H, determined by the electron-donating effect of the substituted groups in the ortho-position. Meanwhile, the morphologies, solubilities, and UV-absorbing and antibacterial behavior of LNPs and a-LNPs were also studied, and the results showed that a-LNP sample exhibited higher UV resistance performance than LNPs. We expected that the modified LNPs with high antioxidation activity can serve as a safe and lower-cost biobased antioxidant.
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