The photobleaching of hypocrellin B (HB) and its derivative butylamino-substituted hypocrellin B (BAHB), both of which are potent sensitizers for photodynamic therapy (PDT), were investigated by studies of absorption spectra and quenching experiments and by the determination of photoproducts. Control experiments indicated that the sensitizer, oxygen and light were essential for the photobleaching of HB and BAHB, which suggested that it was a photodynamic process, e.g. the photobleaching processes of both HB and BAHB were mainly self-sensitized photooxidations. The illumination of HB with visible light in oxygenated nonpolar solvents generated singlet oxygen efficiently [Φ(1O2) = 0.76] which in turn attacked the sensitizer HB with the subsequent formation of an endoperoxide product. The endoperoxide of HB is unstable at room temperature and undergoes loss of singlet oxygen with regeneration of the parent HB. The singlet oxygen released from the endoperoxide of HB was detected with chemical trapping experiments. The quenching experiments indicated that in increasingly polar solvents the superoxide anion mechanism (type I) as well as the singlet oxygen mechanism (type II) contributed to the photobleaching of HB. The introduction of the electron-donating butylamino group not only enhanced the yield of the superoxide anion generation but also altered the position of attack in the BAHB molecule by the activated oxygen species. No endoperoxide product was observed, and no singlet oxygen released from the photobleaching process of BAHB was detected. The photobleaching process of BAHB was more complex. Both the singlet oxygen and superoxide anion mechanism played important roles in the photobleaching of BAHB in all organic solvent used here, even in aerobic nonpolar solvents such as CHCl3.
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Vol. 74 • No. 2