Site(s) of intracellular localization of a photosensitizing chalcogenapyrylium dye were assessed using murine leukemia cells in culture. While the dye exhibited substantial dark toxicity, additional damage was elicited by irradiation. The fluorescence emission spectrum of intracellular dye suggests an initial moderately hydrophobic site of localization (dielectric constant approx. 20). This might represent a membrane interface. But longer incubations led to alterations in both fluorescence emission and absorbance spectra, indicative of both dye migration to a more hydrophilic cellular site and dye biotransformations. Dye-induced cytotoxicity, in either light or dark, was associated with mitochondrial, rather than membrane damage.
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