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Photochem Photobiol. 2009 Jan-Feb;85(1):353-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2008.00447.x.

Nanoscale hydroxyl radical generation from multiphoton ionization of tryptophan.

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  • 1Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, University of Salford, Salford, UK.


Exposure of solutions containing both tryptophan and hydrogen peroxide to a pulsed ( approximately 180 fs) laser beam at 750 nm induces luminescence characteristic of 5-hydroxytryptophan. The results indicate that 3-photon excitation of tryptophan results in photoionization within the focal volume of the laser beam. The resulting hydrated electron is scavenged by hydrogen peroxide to produce the hydroxyl radical. The latter subsequently reacts with tryptophan to form 5-hydroxytryptophan. The involvement of hydroxyl radicals is confirmed by the use of ethanol and nitrous oxide as scavengers and their effects on the fluorescence yield in this system. It is postulated that such multiphoton ionization of tryptophanyl residues in cellular proteins may contribute to the photodamage observed during imaging of cells and tissues using multiphoton microscopy.

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