Theranostics 2020; 10(2):687-706. doi:10.7150/thno.39827


Ferritins as natural and artificial nanozymes for theranostics

Bing Jiang1, Long Fang2,3, Kongming Wu1,4, Xiyun Yan1,2✉, Kelong Fan1,2✉

1. Joint Laboratory of Nanozymes in Zhengzhou University, Academy of Medical Sciences, Zhengzhou University, 40 Daxue Road, Zhengzhou 450052, China.
2. CAS Engineering Laboratory for Nanozyme, Key Laboratory of Protein and Peptide Pharmaceutical, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 15 Datun Road, Beijing 100101, China.
3. Savaid Medical School, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
4. Department of Medical Oncology, The Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Zhengzhou University & Henan Cancer Hospital, Zhengzhou, 450008, China.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Jiang B, Fang L, Wu K, Yan X, Fan K. Ferritins as natural and artificial nanozymes for theranostics. Theranostics 2020; 10(2):687-706. doi:10.7150/thno.39827. Available from

File import instruction


Nanozymes are a class of nanomaterials with intrinsic enzyme-like characteristics which overcome the limitations of natural enzymes such as high cost, low stability and difficulty to large scale preparation. Nanozymes combine the advantages of chemical catalysts and natural enzymes together, and have exhibited great potential in biomedical applications. However, the size controllable synthesis and targeting modifications of nanozymes are still challenging. Here, we introduce ferritin nanozymes to solve these problems. Ferritins are natural nanozymes which exhibit intrinsic enzyme-like activities (e.g. ferroxidase, peroxidase). In addition, by biomimetically synthesizing nanozymes inside the ferritin protein shells, artificial ferritin nanozymes are introduced, which possess the advantages of versatile self-assembly ferritin nanocage and enzymatic activity of nanozymes. Ferritin nanozymes provide a new horizon for the development of nanozyme in disease targeted theranostics research. The emergence of ferritin nanozyme also inspires us to learn from the natural nanostructures to optimize or rationally design nanozymes. In this review, the intrinsic enzyme-like activities of ferritin and bioengineered synthesis of ferritin nanozyme were summarized. After that, the applications of ferritin nanozymes were covered. Finally, the advantages, challenges and future research directions of advanced ferritin nanozymes for biomedical research were discussed.

Keywords: Ferritins, nanozymes, theranostics