Singlet oxygen, a metastable state of normal triplet oxygen, has been identified as the cytotoxic agent that is probably responsible for in vitro inactivation of TA-3 mouse mammary carcinoma cells following incorporation of hematoporphyrin and exposure to red light. This photodynamic inactivation can be completely inhibited by intracellular 1,3-diphenylisobenzofuran. This very efficient singlet oxygen trap is not toxic to the cells nor does it absorb the light responsible for hematoporphyrin activation. We have found that the singlet oxygen-trapping product, o-dibenzoylbenzene, is formed nearly quantitatively intracellularly when both the furan and hematoporphyrin are present during illumination but not when only the furan is present during illumination. The protective effect against photodynamic inactivation of the TA-3 cells afforded by 1,3-diphenylisobenzofuran coupled with the nearly quantitative formation of the singlet oxygen-trapping product indicates that singlet oxygen is the probable agent responsible for toxicity in this system.


This investigation was supported by Grant CA 16717, awarded by the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This is Paper 3 of the series, “Photoradiation Therapy.”

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