Inactivation of erythrocytic, lymphocytic and myelocytic leukemic cells by photoexcitation of endogenous porphyrins

Zvi Malik, Benjamin Ehrenberg, Ariela Faraggi

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The photodynamic sensitization of leukemic cells (erythrocytic, myelocytic and lymphocytic) via light activation of endogenous porphyrins is described. Human myelocytic-erythrocytic K562 cells and murine Friend erythroleukemia (FELC) and T-cell lymphoma Eb-Esb cells were stimulated to synthesize and accumulate porphyrins. K562 cells accumulated high amounts of protoporphyrin by stimulation with 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) plus sodium butyrate or hemin. For Friend and Eb-Esb cells ALA was an adequate stimulator. The high-metastatic Esb lymphoma cells accumulated comparatively more porphyrin than the low-metastatic Eb cell line. Maximal porphyrin accumulation produced mortality rates of more than 99% after 10 min of photoactivation of the three leukemic lines. Thymidine incorporation was inhibited by the photodynamic effect depending on porphyrin concentration. These results confirm the photodynamic ability of endogenous porphyrins to inactivate cancer cells of different origins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-205
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant to Z.M. and B.E. from the Ministry of Health, state of Israel and by grant to Z.M. from the Health Sciences Center of the Bar-Ilan University. The authors wish to thank Mrs. J. Hanania for skillful and excellent technical assistance.


  • Porphyrins
  • aminolevulinic acid.
  • leukemia
  • photodynamic therapy


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