Photochemistry and photobiology vol:74 issue:2 pages:126-32
In a recent clinical study we showed that hypericin accumulates selectively in urothelial lesions following intravesical administration of the compound to patients. In the present study the efficacy of hypericin as a photochemotherapeutic tool against urinary bladder carcinoma was investigated using the AY-27 cells (chemically induced rat bladder carcinoma cells). The uptake of hypericin by the cells increased by prolonging the incubation time and increasing the extracellular hypericin concentration. Photodynamic treatment of the cells incubated with 0.8 and 1.6 microM hypericin concentrations resulted in remarkable cytotoxic effects the extent of which depended on the fluence rates. Photoactivation of 1.6 microM hypericin by 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 mW/cm2 for 15 min resulted in 3, 30 and 95% of the antiproliferative effect, respectively. Increasing the photoactivating light dose from 0.45 to 3.6 J/cm2 resulted in a five-fold increase in hypericin photodynamic activity. Irrespective of the fluence rates and irradiation times incubation of the cells with 10 microM hypericin induced rapid and extensive cell death in all conditions. The type of cell death (apoptosis or necrosis) induced by photoactivated hypericin depended largely on the hypericin concentration and the postirradiation time. At lower hypericin concentrations and shorter postirradiation times apoptosis was the prominent mode of cell death; increasing the hypericin concentration and/or prolonging the postirradiation time resulted in increased necrotic cell death. Cell pretreatment with the singlet oxygen quencher histidine, but not with the free-radical quenchers, significantly protected the cells from photoactivated hypericin-induced apoptosis, at least when a relatively low concentration (1.25 microM) was used. This result suggests the involvement of a Type-II photosensitization process. However, cells treated with higher hypericin concentrations (2.5-5 microM) were inadequately protected by histidine. Since hypericin is thus shown to be a potent and efficient photosensitizer, and since the conditions used were the same as when hypericin is used clinically to locate early-stage urothelial carcinoma lesions, hypericin may well become very important for the photodynamic treatment of superficial bladder carcinoma.