Important cellular targets for antimicrobial photodynamic therapy.


Journal Article

The persistent problem of antibiotic resistance has created a strong demand for new methods for therapy and disinfection. Photodynamic inactivation (PDI) of microbes has demonstrated promising results for eradication of antibiotic-resistant strains. PDI is based on the use of a photosensitive compound (photosensitizer, PS), which upon illumination with visible light generates reactive species capable of damaging and killing microorganisms. Since photogenerated reactive species are short lived, damage is limited to close proximity of the PS. It is reasonable to expect that the larger the number of damaged targets is and the greater their variety is, the higher the efficiency of PDI is and the lower the chances for development of resistance are. Exact molecular mechanisms and specific targets whose damage is essential for microbial inactivation have not been unequivocally established. Two main cellular components, DNA and plasma membrane, are regarded as the most important PDI targets. Using Zn porphyrin-based PSs and Escherichia coli as a model Gram-negative microorganism, we demonstrate that efficient photoinactivation of bacteria can be achieved without detectable DNA modification. Among the cellular components which are modified early during illumination and constitute key PDI targets are cytosolic enzymes, membrane-bound protein complexes, and the plasma membrane. As a result, membrane barrier function is lost, and energy and reducing equivalent production is disrupted, which in turn compromises cell defense mechanisms, thus augmenting the photoinduced oxidative injury. In conclusion, high PDI antimicrobial effectiveness does not necessarily require impairment of a specific critical cellular component and can be achieved by inducing damage to multiple cellular targets.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Awad, MM; Tovmasyan, A; Craik, JD; Batinic-Haberle, I; Benov, LT

Published Date

  • September 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 100 / 17

Start / End Page

  • 7679 - 7688

PubMed ID

  • 27221289

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27221289

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-0614

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00253-016-7632-3


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Germany