Sulfonated chloroaluminum phthalocyanines have been studied for their use in the photodynamic therapy (PDT) of tumors. Plasma low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are important carriers of phthalocyanines in the blood, but on exposure to visible light, phthalocyanine-loaded LDL undergo an oxidation process that propagates to erythrocytes. We attempted to identify the reactive species involved in LDL and erythrocyte oxidation by means of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy in the presence of 2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-4-piperidone (TEMP) and the spin trap 5,5′-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-N-oxide (DMPO). Irradiation of phthalocyanine-loaded LDL in the presence of DMPO resulted in the formation of a four-line EPR spectrum with relative intensity of 1:2:2:1 (aN = aH = 14.8 G), characteristic of DMPO-hydroxyl radical spin adduct. This signal was sensitive to superoxide dismutase and slightly sensitive to catalase, but a mixture of the two enzymatic activities was the most efficient in promoting a decrease in the intensity of the EPR signal. In the presence of erythrocytes, an increase in the quartet intensity for a hematocrit of 1% and 4% was observed, decreasing for higher erythrocyte concentrations. The irradiation of phthalocyanine-loaded LDL in the presence of TEMP resulted in the formation of a nitroxide radical, 2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-4-piperidone-N-oxyl radical, intensity of which was sensitive to histidine, a singlet oxygen (1O2) quencher. Under both incubation conditions, with DMPO and TEMP, the formation of the respective EPR signals required the sensitizer (phthalocyanine), light and oxygen. Overall, the results are compatible with the simultaneous formation of superoxide anion and 1O2, implying that Type-I and Type-II mechanisms of photochemistry are simultaneously operative in phthalocyanine-loaded LDL. However, for a constant LDL/phthalocyanine ratio, the formation of oxygen free radicals shows a biphasic behavior with the concentration of LDL increasing and reaching a plateau, whereas the formation of 1O2 increases linearly with LDL concentration. Erythrocytes at high (physiological) concentrations induced a decrease in the intensity of both EPR signals. The physiological relevance of these findings in the framework of PDT is briefly discussed.
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Vol. 80 • No. 2