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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51974. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051974. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

In vitro comparison of hypericin and 5-aminolevulinic acid-derived protoporphyrin IX for photodynamic inactivation of medulloblastoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany. rainer_ritz@hotmail.com



Hypericin (HYP) is a naturally occurring photosensitizer. Cellular uptake and photodynamic inactivation after incubation with this photosensitizer have neither been examined in medulloblastoma cells in vitro, nor compared with 5-aminolevulinic acid-derived protoporphyrin IX (5-ALA-derived PpIX).


In 3 medulloblastoma cell lines (D283 Med, Daoy, and D341 Med) the time- and concentration-dependent intracellular accumulation of HYP and 5-ALA-derived PpIX was analyzed by fluorescence microscopy (FM) and FACS. Photocytotoxicity was measured after illumination at 595 nm (HYP) and 635 nm (5-ALA-derived PpIX) in D283 Med cells and compared to U373 MG glioma cells.


All medulloblastoma cell lines exhibited concentration- and time-dependent uptake of HYP. Incubation with HYP up to 10 µM resulted in a rapid increase in fluorescence intensity, which peaked between 2 and 4 hours. 5-ALA-derived PpIX accumulation increased in D283 Med cells by 22% over baseline after 5-ALA incubation up to 1.2 mM. Photocytotoxicity of 5-ALA-derived PpIX was higher in D283 Med medulloblastoma compared to U373MG glioma. The LD50 [lethal dose (light dose that is required to reduce cell survival to 50% of control)] of 5-ALA-derived PpIX was 3.8 J/cm(2) in D283 Med cells versus 5.7 J/cm2 in U373MG glioma cells. Photocytotoxicity of HYP in D283 Med cells was determined at 2.5 µM after an incubation time of 2 h and an illumination wavelength of 595 nm. The [Formula: see text] value was 0.47 J/cm(2).


By its 5-fold increase in fluorescence over autofluorescence levels HYP has excellent properties for tumor visualization in medulloblastomas. The high photocytotoxicity of HYP, compared to 5-ALA-derived PpIX, is convincingly demonstrated by its 8- to 13-fold lower LD50. Therefore HYP might be a promising molecule for intraoperative visualization and photodynamic treatment of medulloblastomas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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