Asymmetric ZnPc-rhodamine B conjugates for mitochondrial targeted photodynamic therapy

Dominic K. Muli, Pallavi Rajaputra, Youngjae You, Dominic V. McGrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Design, synthesis, characterization, and photodynamic activity of mitochondria specific asymmetric ZnPc-Rh B conjugates are described. Conjugation of asymmetric ZnPc-OH chromophores 3a and 3b with rhodamine B via the corresponding DIC-activated ester gave the desired near IR-absorbing asymmetric ZnPc-Rh B conjugates 1a and 1b. Conjugates 1a and 1b were shown to produce singlet oxygen upon illumination in DMSO, MeOH and THF. Fluorescence aggregation studies of the dyes 1a, 1b, 3a and 3b in DMSO and phosphate buffered saline (PBS) solution showed that conjugates 1a and 1b were less aggregated compared to the corresponding non-conjugates 3a and 3b suggesting that incorporation of Rh B lowered aggregation of the conjugates in the PBS solution. The four dyes studied have log D7.4values between 2.31 and 2.48, with the sulfur-containing conjugate 1b being the most hydrophobic. All the dyes showed negligible dark toxicity when colon 26 cells were treated with 5 μM of the dyes while 10-15% cell death was observed for dye concentrations of 15 μM. Illumination (700 ± 40 nm, 45 J/cm2, 15 min) of the cells ([dye] = 15 μM) gave 70% cell death for ZnPc-Rh B conjugates 1a and 1b while no killing for non-conjugates 3a and 3b suggesting that the incorporation of the Rh B in the photosensitizer lowered the aggregation and subsequently improved cellular uptake and phototoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4496-4500
Number of pages5
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2014


  • Anticancer therapy
  • Asymmetric zinc phthalocyanine
  • Mitochondria targeting conjugates
  • Near IR absorption
  • Photodynamic therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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