Phototoxic effectiveness of zinc phthalocyanine tetrasulfonic acid on MCF-7 cells with overexpressed P-glycoprotein

Aniogo Eric Chekwube, Blassan George, Heidi Abrahamse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The development of multidrug resistance is often associated with the over-expression of P-glycoprotein (P-gp). This protein prevents drug accumulation and extrudes them out of the cell before they reach the intended target. The aim of this study was to develop an in vitro MCF-7 cell line with increased expression of P-gp and test the phototoxicity of a novel photoactivated zinc phthalocyanine tetrasulfonic acid (ZnPcS4) on these cells. The over-expressed P-gp MCF-7 cells (MCF-7/DOX) were developed from wildtype (WT) MCF-7 cells by a stepwise continuous exposure of the WT cells to different concentrations of Doxorubicin (DOX) (0.1 – 1 μM) over a period of 4 months. The P-gp expression was measured using flow cytometry, immunofluorescence and enzyme immunoassay. To verify whether zinc phthalocyanine-mediated photodynamic therapy (ZnPcS4 – PDT) is effective in MCF-7/DOX, we studied the subcellular localization, phototoxicity and nuclear damage. The flow cytometry result showed two distinct peaks of P-gp positive and negative expression in MCF-7/DOX cell population, which correlates with the ELISA-based assay (p˂0.001). The ME16C (Normal breast cells) was used as control. The localization studies showed that ZnPcS4 have greater affinity for lysosome than mitochondria. Phototoxicity results indicated that photoactivated zinc phthalocyanine decreased the cell proliferation and viability as the drug and laser light dosages increased to 16 μM and 20 J/cm2 respectively. PDT-induced cytotoxicity using lactose dehydrogenase (LDH) enzyme leakage as measure did not increase likewise. The ZnPcS4-induced PDT was less effective for MCF-7/DOX cells which could be attributed to decreased retention of ZnPcS4 in major cellular organelles due to the presence of increased drug efflux P-gp. The current findings suggest that, increased P-gp expression, a characteristic of multidrug resistance together with other related intrinsic mechanisms might contribute to render MCF-7/DOX cells less sensitive to ZnPcS4-induced phototoxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111811
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Breast cancer
  • Chemoresistant cells
  • Doxorubicin
  • MCF-7 cells
  • P-glycoprotein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Phototoxic effectiveness of zinc phthalocyanine tetrasulfonic acid on MCF-7 cells with overexpressed P-glycoprotein'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this