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A New Glutathione-Cleavable Theranostic for Photodynamic Therapy Based on Bacteriochlorin e and Styrylnaphthalimide Derivatives

Published: 8 December 2022
 by  MDPI

Abstract: Herein, we report a new conjugate BChl–S–S–NI based on the second-generation photosensitizer bacteriochlorin e6 (BChl) and a 4-styrylnaphthalimide fluorophore (NI), which is cleaved into individual functional fragments in the intracellular medium. The chromophores in the conjugate were cross-linked by click chemistry via a bis(azidoethyl)disulfide bridge which is reductively cleaved by the intracellular enzyme glutathione (GSH). A photophysical investigation of the conjugate in solution by using optical spectroscopy revealed that the energy transfer process is realized with high efficiency in the conjugated system, leading to the quenching of the emission of the fluorophore fragment. It was shown that the conjugate is cleaved by GSH in solution, which eliminates the possibility of energy transfer and restores the fluorescence of 4-styrylnaphthalimide. The photoinduced activity of the conjugate and its imaging properties were investigated on the mouse soft tissue sarcoma cell line S37. Phototoxicity studies in vitro show that the BChl–S–S–NI conjugate has insignificant dark cytotoxicity in the concentration range from 15 to 20,000 nM. At the same time, upon photoexcitation, it exhibits high photoinduced activity.
Keywords: bacteriochlorin / naphthalimide / photodynamic therapy / fluorescence imaging / theranostics / resonance energy transfer / glutathione

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