Theranostics 2012; 2(9):850-870. doi:10.7150/thno.4547 This issue
Louisiana State University, Department of Chemistry, Baton Rouge LA, 70803, USA
Di-cationic Zn(II)-phthalocyanines (ZnPcs) are promising photosensitizers for the photodynamic therapy (PDT) of cancers and for photoinactivation of viruses and bacteria. Pegylation of photosensitizers in general enhances their water-solubility and tumor cell accumulation. A series of pegylated di-cationic ZnPcs were synthesized from conjugation of a low molecular weight PEG group to a pre-formed Pc macrocycle, or by mixed condensation involving a pegylated phthalonitrile. All pegylated ZnPcs were highly soluble in polar organic solvents but were insoluble in water; they have intense Q absorptions centered at 680 nm and fluorescence quantum yields of ca. 0.2 in DMF. The non-pegylated di-cationic ZnPc 6a formed large aggregates, which were visualized by atomic force microscopy. The cytotoxicity, cellular uptake and subcellular distribution of all cationic ZnPcs were investigated in human carcinoma HEp2 cells. The most phototoxic compounds were found to be the α-substituted Pcs. Among these, Pcs 4a and 16a were the most effective (IC50 ca. 10 μM at 1.5 J/cm2), in part due to the presence of a PEG group and the two positive charges in close proximity (separated by an ethylene group) in these macrocycles. The β-substituted ZcPcs 6b and 4b accumulated the most within HEp2 cells but had low photocytoxicity (IC50 > 100 μM at 1.5 J/cm2), possibly as a result of their lower electron density of the ring and more extended conformations compared with the α-substituted Pcs. The results show that the charge distribution about the Pc macrocycle and the intracellular localization of the cationic ZnPcs mainly determine their photodynamic activity.
Keywords: phthalocyanine, PDT, pegylation, cationic photosensitizer