TitleMerocyanine 540 solubilized as an ion pair with cationic surfactant in nonpolar solvents: spectral and photochemical properties.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsBilski, P, McDevitt, TC, Chignell, CF
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Date PublishedJune 1999
KeywordsHumans, Oxygen, Photochemistry, Pyrimidinones, Solubility, Solvents, Spectrometry, Fluorescence, Spectrophotometry, Surface-Active Agents

Merocyanine 540 (MC) is an anionic dye that is used to photopurge the bone marrow of leukemia cells. Under these conditions it is localized mostly in cell membranes, which may affect its photochemical reactivity. We investigated the photochemistry of MC dissolved as a hydrophobic ion pair with a hexadecyltrioctadecylammonium cation in cyclohexane, trimethylpentane and toluene as well as in propylene carbonate, CH3CN, C2H5OH and D2O. In organic solvents, the absorption and fluorescence spectra of MC were strongly red-shifted compared with aqueous solutions. The fluorescence was also more intense despite aggregation that occurred in some solvents. Aggregation strongly affects the spectral and photochemical properties of MC, especially in aliphatic hydrocarbons in which distinctive H-type aggregates are formed. Hydrophobic MC is a moderate photosensitizer of singlet molecular oxygen (1O2). The following values for 1O2 quantum yields were calculated based on 1O2 phosphorescence relative to 1O2 generation by Rose Bengal: approximately 0.12 in trimethylpenthane, approximately 0.13 in cyclohexane, 0.045 in EtOH, 0.039 in toluene, 0.007 in CH3CN and approximately 3 x 10(-4) in D2O. The H-aggregates of MC in cyclohexane and trimethylpentane are better 1O2 producers than monomeric MC. The above 1O2 quantum yields are corrected for self-quenching because MC is an efficient 1O2 quencher (17 x 10(7) M-1 s-1 in CH3CN, 6.8 x 10(7) M-1 s-1 in D2O, 5.2 x 10(7) M-1 s-1 in EtOH, and 1.4 x 10(7) M-1 s-1 in toluene). Merocyanine undergoes photodegradation, a solvent-dependent process that proceeds faster when the dye is aggregated. The initial photodegradation rate is much slower in organic solvents than in water, but photodegradation products accumulated during longer irradiation may increase the rate in most solvents. Higher photostability and better photosensitization by MC in hydrophobic nonpolar solvents suggest that the killing of leukemia cells via a photodynamic mechanism may operate mostly in cell membranes. In contrast, any cytotoxic products from photodecomposition may be important in hydrophilic cell compartments. Our data show the spectral and photochemical properties of MC in a pure hydrophobic environment.

Alternate JournalPhotochem. Photobiol.
PubMed ID10378005