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Br J Cancer. 1999 Mar;79(9-10):1372-7.

Hypoxia significantly reduces aminolaevulinic acid-induced protoporphyrin IX synthesis in EMT6 cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, NY 14642, USA.


We have studied the effects of hypoxia on aminolaevulinic acid (ALA)-induced protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) synthesis in EMT6 monolayer cultures characterized by different cell densities and proliferation rates. Specifically, after ALA incubation under hypoxic or normoxic conditions, we detected spectrofluorometrically the PpIX content of the following populations: (a) low-density exponentially growing cells; (b) high-density fed-plateau cells; and (c) high-density unfed-plateau cells. These populations were selected either for the purpose of comparison with other in vitro studies (low-density exponentially growing cells) or as representatives of tumour regions adjacent to (high-density fed-plateau cells) and further away from (high-density unfed-plateau cells) capillaries. The amount of PpIX per cell produced by each one of these populations was higher after normoxic ALA incubation. The magnitude of the effect of hypoxia on PpIX synthesis was dependent on cell density and proliferation rate. A 42-fold decrease in PpIX fluorescence was observed for the high-density unfed-plateau cells. PpIX production by the low-density exponential cells was affected the least by ALA incubation under hypoxic conditions (1.4-fold decrease), whereas the effect on the high-density fed-plateau population was intermediate (20-fold decrease).

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