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Acta Paediatr. 1994 Jan;83(1):7-12.

Cells, bilirubin and light: formation of bilirubin photoproducts and cellular damage at defined wavelengths.

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Radiation Medicine Department, Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, OsterĂ¥s.


Cultured cells from one human and one murine cell line were treated with bilirubin and irradiated with visible light of different wavelengths, either from phototherapy lamps or from a Xenon/Mercury lamp equipped with a monochromator. Bilirubin bound to human serum albumin was also irradiated with light. After irradiation, the bilirubin and its photoisomers were extracted and analysed with High Pressure Liquid Chromatography. The formation of single strand breaks in the DNA of treated cells was studied using a fluorescence marker. Cytotoxicity in the mouse skin cell line was measured by loss of the ability to form visible colonies in vitro. Green light exposure favours the production of lumirubin, while blue light causes more DNA damage and cytotoxicity. Green light may be more efficient and safer than shorter wavelength exposure when treating jaundiced newborns with phototherapy.

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