Photochemistry and photobiology

Hypericin damages the ectatic capillaries in a Roman cockscomb model and inhibits the growth of human endothelial cells more potently than hematoporphyrin does through induction of apoptosis.

PMID 25065502


Hypericin (HY) is a promising photosensitizer (PS) for use in photodynamic therapy (PDT). Port-wine stains (PWSs) are congenital superficial dermal capillary malformations. In this study, we evaluated the photocytotoxic effects of HY for PDT in human vascular endothelial cells and a chicken cockscomb model. HY significantly inhibited the growth of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), as determined by colorimetric assays and morphological observation, and flow cytometry assays indicated induction of apoptosis and collapse of the mitochondrial membrane potential. In addition, HY more effectively inhibited growth of and induced apoptosis in HUVECs compared with hematoporphyrin (HP). Further experiments performed in a Roman chicken cockscomb model also showed a clear photocytotoxic effect on the cockscomb dermal capillary upon intravenous injection of HY. This effect may be due to the role of HY in the induction of apoptosis. Transmission electron microscopical analysis showed mitochondrial morphological changes such as incomplete ridges and swelling, and immunohistochemical assays showed an increase in the release of cytochrome c. In conclusion, HY exhibited a greater photocytotoxic activity than did HP toward the growth of endothelial cells and may thus represent a potent PS for PWS PDT.