Intracellular localization of photosensitizers.

J. Moan, K. Berg, E. Kvam, A. Western, Z. Malik, A. Rück, H. Schneckenburger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


The intracellular localization of photosensitizers can be studied by different methods. One method involves homogenization of the cells followed by differential ultracentrifugation which leads to fractions enriched in nuclear, mitochondrial, and microsomal material as well as a supernatant fraction. More detailed information can be obtained by electron microscopy of cells exposed to light in the presence of photosensitizers. This method is based on the assumption that damage is primarily induced at intracellular sites where the concentration of photosensitizer is high. By irradiating the cells at 6 degrees C, where biochemical reactions are slow, and then incubating them for different times at 37 degrees C, it is possible to follow the development of damage. The amount of photosensitized damage to enzymes or cell functions whose localization in the cells is known gives information about the intracellular localization of the sensitizer. Fluorescence microscopy is the most direct method and is widely applicable because most photosensitizers fluoresce. Lipophilic dyes generally localize in membrane structures. In future more attention should be paid to the localization of dyes in lysosomes, as suggested by early reports. Mitochondria, the endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear membrane are other important loci for intracellular localization of sensitizers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107; discussion 107-111
JournalCiba Foundation symposium
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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