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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2000 Dec;16(4):381-94.

Methylene blue derivatives--suitable photoantimicrobials for blood product disinfection?

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  • Photochemotherapy Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK. m.wainwright@uclan.ac.uk


Photodynamic antimicrobial agents based on the well-established phenothiazinium biological stain methylene blue offer a simple method for the inactivation or destruction of pathogens contained in donated blood and blood products. The technique is currently concentrated on viruses and the disinfective procedure can be carried out in blood bags using basic low-power light sources. Pathogens of the bacterial, yeast and protozoal classes are also susceptible to phenothiaziniums. The photoantimicrobial mode of action is usually via oxidative damage to cellular components, either due to redox reactions between the agent and a biomolecular target or by the action of reactive oxygen species generated in situ by photodynamic action. The targeting of various microbial species is discussed in relation to the physicochemical make-up of the photosensitizers, and future directions are suggested.

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