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J Med Chem. 1998 May 21;41(11):1789-802.

Hydroxyphthalocyanines as potential photodynamic agents for cancer therapy.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, York University, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada.


A series of benzyl-substituted phthalonitriles, substituted at the 3-, 4-, and 4,5-positions, underwent varied condensations with phthalonitrile to give a series of protected (monohydroxy- and polyhydroxyphthalocyaninato)zinc(II) derivatives which were readily cleaved to give several hydroxyphthalocyanines (ZnPc) (phthalocyanine phenol analogues). Their efficacy as sensitizers for the photodynamic therapy (PDT) of cancer was evaluated on the EMT-6 mammary tumor cell line. In vitro, the 2-hydroxy ZnPc (32) was the most active, followed by the 2,3- and 2,9-dihydroxy ZnPc (39 and 45), with the 2,9,16-trihydroxy ZnPc (33) exhibiting the least activity. In vivo, the monohydroxy derivative 32 and the 2,3-dihydroxy derivative 39 were both efficient in inducing tumor necrosis at 1 micromol kg-1, but complete tumor regression was poor, even at 2 micromol/kg. In contrast, the 2,9-dihydroxy isomer 45, at 2 micromol kg-1, induced tumor necrosis in all animals treated, with 75% complete regression. These results underline the importance of the position of the substituents on the Pc macrocycle to optimize tumor response and confirm the PDT potential of the unsymmetrical Pcs bearing functional groups on adjacent benzene rings.

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