Original Article

Photosensitization of bilirubin on proliferation and DNA synthesis in ascitic hepatoma cells

Xiu-Fang Zhou, Fu-Yu Chen, Zhao-Chong Zeng, Rong-Liang Zheng


AIM: To observe the effects and its mechanism of photosensitization of bilirubin on ascitic hepatoma (Hep A) cells.
METHODS: After the cells were illuminated under the light (1.0 x 10(5) lx) for 10 min, deoxy[3H]thymidine was added for DNA synthesis assay. The cells were dyed with 0.5% trypan blue and were counted.
RESULTS: The cell mortality of illuminated groups were much higher than that of dark groups (P < 0.01). The inhibitions of DNA synthesis of illuminated groups were stronger than that of dark groups (P < 0.01). The cell mortality and inhibition of DNA synthesis of illuminated groups were positively dependent upon the concentrations of bilirubin and illuminating time. No difference of DNA synthesis between room light illumination groups and dark groups (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: The photosensitization of bilirubin killed Hep A cells obviously. Bilirubin under room light had no effect on inhibition of DNA synthesis. The photosensitization of bilirubin was closely related to 1O2 and H2O2 and not to OH. and O2-. Bilirubin, the end product of heme catabolism in mammals, is a potentially cytotoxic, lipid soluble waste product that needs to be excreted. However, bilirubin at micromolar concentration in vitro, efficiently scavenges peroxyl radicals. In liposomes, bilirubin suppresses the antioxidation more than alpha-tocopherol, which is regarded as the best antioxidant of lipid peroxidation. Thus bilirubin is a physiological, chain-breaking antioxidant. Bilirubin exhibited antitumor activity and acted as a photosensitizer with four pyrrole rings. Many photosensitizers have been used to treat cancer due to their photosensitization. In this paper, the photosensitization of bilirubin on DNA synthesis in ascitic hepatoma (Hep A) cells and on cell mortality were studied.

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