Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology vol:56 issue:1 pages:19-24
The normoxic and hypoxic photocytotoxicity of hypericin has been examined on A431 cells as assessed by the Neutral Red method, using cell-culture flasks made of polystyrene and glass, different hypericin concentrations and light fluences. Using polystyrene flasks, lower hypoxic photoactivities of hypericin than those in normoxic conditions are seen under low fluence. In these conditions the hypoxic photocytotoxic effect can be (partially) rescued by increasing the fluence. However, a completely different outcome is observed when using glass flasks, since most of the hypoxic photocytotoxicity is lost under these conditions. The differences can be explained in terms of efficiency of deoxygenation of the medium present in polystyrene or glass flasks. Polystyrene holds large amounts of oxygen that effuses very slowly. Glass, on the other hand, does not cause this inconvenience. Therefore the type of material of the container used to investigate the oxygen dependency of the photobiological activity of photosensitizers dramatically influences the outcome of the hypoxic experiments. Our results unequivocally prove that the cytotoxic effect induced by photoactivated hypericin is completely oxygen dependent. Hence hypericin does not differ from other phototherapeutics used in photodynamic therapy of cancer, since haematoporphyrin derivative and the second-generation photosensitizers used all seem to depend on the presence of oxygen for their antitumour activity.