Aromatic amines, such as o-phenylenediamine (OPD), have been used extensively in commercial hair dyes and in the synthesis of agricultural pesticides. Air oxidation of OPD results in the formation of 2,3-diaminophenazine (DAP). Although the mutagenic toxicity of DAP has been shown in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems, its phototoxicity remains largely unexplored. This study focuses on the pH-dependent photophysical properties of DAP and demonstrates its ability to photoinduce DNA damage to pUC19 plasmid in vitro. The photocytotoxicity of DAP toward human skin fibroblasts was also measured. DAP exhibits weak intercalative binding to double-stranded DNA with a binding constant Kb = 3.5 × 103 M−1. Furthermore, upon irradiation with visible light, DAP is able to nick plasmid DNA in the presence of oxygen. The concentration of DAP that resulted in 50% cell death was 172 ± 9 μM in the dark and 13 ± 1 μM after irradiation of the DAP-treated cell cultures with visible light (400–700 nm, 30 min, 5 J/cm2). The 13-fold increase in toxicity upon exposure to visible light shows the need for further study of the photocytotoxicity of contaminants such as DAP.
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Vol. 81 • No. 1