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Concept: Triplet oxygen


Water-Soluble Chlorophyll Proteins (WSCPs) from Brassicaceae are non-photosynthetic proteins which tetramerize upon binding four chlorophyll (Chl) molecules. The bound Chls are highly photostable, despite the lack of bound carotenoids known, in Chl-containing photosynthetic proteins, to act as singlet oxygen and Chl triplet ((3)Chl) quenchers. Although the physiological function of WSCPs is still unclear, it is likely to be related to their biochemical stability and their resistance to photodegradation. To get insight into the origin of this photostability, the properties of the (3)Chl generated in WSCPs upon illumination were investigated. We found that, unlike the excited singlet states, which are excitonic states, the triplet state is localized on a single Chl molecule. Moreover, the lifetime of the (3)Chl generated in WSCPs is comparable to that observed in other Chl-containing systems and is reduced in presence of oxygen. In contrast to previous observations, we found that WSCP actually photosensitizes singlet oxygen with an efficiency comparable to that of Chl in organic solvent. We demonstrated that the observed resistance to photooxidation depends on the conformation of the phytyl moieties, which in WSCP are interposed between the rings of Chl dimers, hindering the access of singlet oxygen to the oxidizable sites of the pigments.

Concepts: Singlet state, Acetic acid, Solvent, Triplet oxygen, Excited state, Singlet oxygen, Photosynthesis, Oxygen


BODIPY dyes tend to be highly fluorescent, but their emissions can be attenuated by adding substituents with appropriate oxidation potentials. Substituents like these have electrons to feed into photoexcited BODIPYs, quenching their fluorescence, thereby generating relatively long-lived triplet states. Singlet oxygen is formed when these triplet states interact with (3)O(2). In tissues, this causes cell damage in regions that are illuminated, and this is the basis of photodynamic therapy (PDT). The PDT agents that are currently approved for clinical use do not feature BODIPYs, but there are many reasons to believe that this situation will change. This review summarizes the attributes of BODIPY dyes for PDT, and in some related areas.

Concepts: Electron, Ultraviolet, Triplet oxygen, Spectroscopy, Photodynamic therapy, Singlet oxygen, Fluorescence, Oxygen


A microphotoreactor device was developed to generate bubbles (1.4 mm diameter, 90 μL) containing singlet oxygen at levels toxic to bacteria and fungus. As singlet oxygen decays rapidly to triplet oxygen, the bubbles leave behind no waste or byproducts other than O(2). From a comparative study in deaerated, air saturated, and oxygenated solutions, it was reasoned that the singlet oxygen bubbles inactivate Escherichia coli and Aspergillus fumigatus, mainly by an oxygen gradient inside and outside of the bubble such that singlet oxygen is solvated and diffuses through the aqueous solution until it reacts with the target organism. Thus, singlet oxygen bubble toxicity was inversely proportional to the amount of dissolved oxygen in solution. In a second mechanism, singlet oxygen interacts directly with E. coli that accumulate at the gas-liquid interface although this mechanism operates at a rate approximately 10 times slower. Due to encapsulation in the gaseous core of the bubble and a 0.98 ms lifetime, the bubbles can traverse relatively long 0.39 mm distances carrying (1)O(2) far into the solution; by comparison the diffusion distance of (1)O(2) fully solvated in H(2)O is much shorter (∼150 nm). Bubbles that reached the outer air-water interface contained no (1)O(2). The mechanism by which (1)O(2) deactivated organisms was explored through the addition of detergent molecules and Ca(2+) ions. Results indicate that the preferential accumulation of E. coli at the air-water interface of the bubble leads to enhanced toxicity of bubbles containing (1)O(2). The singlet oxygen device offers intriguing possibilities for creating new types of disinfection strategies based on photodynamic ((1)O(2)) bubble carriers.

Concepts: Gut flora, Aspergillus, Triplet oxygen, Chemistry, Singlet oxygen, Escherichia coli, Bacteria, Oxygen


Organically modified mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) containing rose bengal (RB), a xanthene dye, were successfully synthesized. RB-modified MSNs have shown a relevant photostability and a high efficiency in the photoproduction and delivery of singlet oxygen ((1) O2 ), which is particularly promising for photodynamic therapy (PDT) applications. In vitro tests have evidenced that RB-MSNs are able to reduce cell proliferation in one of the most aggressive skin cancer types (SK-MEL-28) after green-light irradiation.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Silicon, Triplet oxygen, Photodynamic therapy, Rose bengal, Oxygen, Mesoporous silica, Singlet oxygen


Rose Bengal (RB), a xanthene dye, incorporated into mesostructured silica nanoparticles (MSNs) exhibits efficient singlet oxygen ((1)O2) generation when illuminated with 540 nm green light which is particularly promising for PDT applications. Several systems with different RB loadings were synthesized and fully characterized by means of spectroscopic techniques in combination with a computational study, to optimize the amount of RB in order to avoid the formation of aggregates that is detrimental for a high (1)O2 delivery.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Physical chemistry, Silicon, Triplet oxygen, Rose bengal, Oxygen, Singlet oxygen, Spectroscopy


The study of singlet oxygen in biological systems is challenging in many ways. Singlet oxygen is a relatively unstable ephemeral molecule, and its properties make it highly reactive with many biomolecules, making it difficult to quantify accurately. Several methods have been developed to study this elusive molecule, but most studies thus far have focussed on those conditions that produce relatively large amounts of singlet oxygen. However, the need for more sensitive methods is required as one begins to explore the levels of singlet oxygen required in signalling and regulatory processes. Here we discuss the various methods used in the study of singlet oxygen, and outline their uses and limitations.

Concepts: Cultural studies, The Various, Regulation, Biomolecule, Triplet oxygen, Molecule, Singlet oxygen, Oxygen


Activatable photosensitizers (PSs) and chemo-prodrugs are highly desirable for anti-cancer therapy to reduce systemic toxicity. However, it is difficult to integrate both together into a molecular probe for combination therapy due to the complexity of introducing PS, singlet oxygen quencher, chemo-drug, chemo-drug inhibitor and active linker at the same time. To realize activatable PS and chemo-prodrug combination therapy, we develop a smart therapeutic platform in which the chemo-prodrug serves as the singlet oxygen quencher for the PS. Specifically, the photosensitizing activity and fluorescence of the PS (TPEPY-SH) are blocked by the chemo-prodrug (Mitomycin C, MMC) in the probe. Meanwhile, the cytotoxicity of MMC is also inhibited by the electron-withdrawing acyl at the nitrogen position next to the linker. Upon glutathione activation, TPEPY-S-MMC can simultaneously release active PS and MMC for combination therapy. The restored fluorescence of TPEPY-SH is also used to report the activation for both PS and MMC as well as to guide the photodynamic therapy.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Therapy, Nitrogen, Triplet oxygen, Fluorescence, Singlet oxygen, Photodynamic therapy, Oxygen


A light-activated hypoxia-responsive conjugated polymer-based nanocarrier is developed for efficiently producing singlet oxygen ((1) O2 ) and inducing hypoxia to promote release of its cargoes in tumor cells, leading to enhanced antitumor efficacy. This dual-responsive nanocarrier provides an innovative design guideline for enhancing traditional photodynamic therapeutic efficacy integrated with a controlled drug-release modality.

Concepts: DNA, Triplet oxygen, Singlet oxygen, Cure, Cancer, Oncology, Oxygen


Ru(II) dyads are a class of bioactive molecules of interest as anticancer agents obtained incorporating an organic chromophore in the light-absorbing metallic scaffold. A careful DFT and TDDFT investigation of the photophysical properties of a series of Ru(II)-polypiridyl dyads containing polythiophene chains of different lengths bound to a coordinating imidazo[4,5-f][1,10]phenanthroline ligand is herein reported. The modulation of the crucial chemical and physical properties of the photosensitizer with increasing number of thiophene units has been accurately described by investigating the UV-vis spectra and type I and type II photoreactions, also including spin-orbit coupling values (SOC). Results show that the low-lying (3)IL states afforded as the number of thiophene ligands increases (n = 3, 4) are energetically high enough to ensure singlet oxygen production and can be also involved in electron transfer reaction, showing a dual type I/type II photeoreactivity.

Concepts: Triplet oxygen, Spectroscopy, Electron transfer, Singlet oxygen, Molecule, Electron, DNA, Oxygen


The development of precision nanomedicines to direct nanostructure-based reagents into tumour-targeted areas remains a critical challenge in clinics. Chemical reaction-mediated localization in response to tumour environmental perturbations offers promising opportunities for rational design of effective nano-theranostics. Here, we present a unique microenvironment-sensitive strategy for localization of peptide-premodified upconversion nanocrystals (UCNs) within tumour areas. Upon tumour-specific cathepsin protease reactions, the cleavage of peptides induces covalent cross-linking between the exposed cysteine and 2-cyanobenzothiazole on neighbouring particles, thus triggering the accumulation of UCNs into tumour site. Such enzyme-triggered cross-linking of UCNs leads to enhanced upconversion emission upon 808 nm laser irradiation, and in turn amplifies the singlet oxygen generation from the photosensitizers attached on UCNs. Importantly, this design enables remarkable tumour inhibition through either intratumoral UCNs injection or intravenous injection of nanoparticles modified with the targeting ligand. Our strategy may provide a multimodality solution for effective molecular sensing and site-specific tumour treatment.

Concepts: Injection, Chemistry, In vivo, Triplet oxygen, Singlet oxygen, Route of administration, Photodynamic therapy, Oxygen