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Chem Res Toxicol. 2005 Feb;18(2):204-12.

Photosensitizing effect of some nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs on natural and artificial membranes: dependence on phospholipid composition.

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Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Catania, 95125 Catania, Italy.


Previous studies have clarified the molecular mechanism of photosensitization on red blood cell membranes induced by some drugs belonging to the class of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs: ketoprofen, naproxen, and diflunisal. This process involves the participation of photodegradation products, free radicals, and reactive oxygen species. The aim of the present paper is to investigate the photohemolytic process using red blood cells of mammalian species, with different membrane phospholipid compositions. Human and bovine red blood cell membranes were selectively enriched with phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin. For this purpose, a new approach for phospholipid investigation was undertaken. Moreover, the phototoxic effect was tested with liposomes at different phospholipid compositions. A structure-function relationship between the erythrocyte membrane phospholipid composition and the photohemolytic process induced by the sensitizers can be proposed. Indeed, the different contents of the photoperoxidable double bond and the variable architecture of the membrane bilayer, due to the different phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin contents, strongly influence the resistance of the cell to an osmotic shock induced by photogenerated transient species or by the lytic activity of drug photoproducts. The higher content of sphingomyelin, its asymmetric disposition at the outer surface of membrane bilayers, the high level of saturated acyl fatty chains, and the presence of photoperoxidable trans double bonds in the hydrophilic region greatly decrease the fluidity of bilayers and enhance the resistance of the membrane to phototoxic damage. On the other hand, an increase in the content of phosphatidylcholine, which is rich in species with unsaturated acyl fatty chains, decreases the membrane resistance, because these latter can be easily oxidized by drug-photogenerated reactive oxygen species.

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