Photodynamic therapy (PDT) kills cells via the production of singlet oxygen and other reactive oxygen species. PDT causes chromosomal damage and mutation to cultured cells. However, DNA damage does not contribute to the phototoxic effect. To study the effect of Photofrin-PDT–induced DNA damage, we used the comet assay in combination with endonuclease III and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase and a human keratinocyte cell line to investigate photogenotoxicity and its prevention by tocopherol (TOC). This study shows that PDT induced DNA damage in HaCaT cells at doses allowing cells to survive 7 days after irradiation. α-TOC did not prevent the acute cell lysis caused by Photofrin-PDT but did prevent Photofrin-PDT–induced DNA damage. However, the concentration of TOC that conferred protection (100 μM) was higher than is detected in human serum. Base oxidation was also measured using the comet assay. Although TOC could prevent frank DNA strand breaks caused by PDT, it was unable to decrease the level of base oxidation as revealed by enzyme-sensitive sites. It is suggested that the potential genotoxic risk from laser-PDT could be low, and that topical α-TOC at a high concentration may be useful in preventing some types of DNA damage without preventing acute photolysis after Photofrin-PDT.
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Vol. 79 • No. 1