An in vitro cell irradiation protocol for testing photopharmaceuticals and the effect of blue, green, and red light on human cancer cell lines†
Traditionally, ultraviolet light (100–400 nm) is considered an exogenous carcinogen while visible light (400–780 nm) is deemed harmless. In this work, a LED irradiation system for in vitro photocytotoxicity testing is described. The LED irradiation system was developed for testing photopharmaceutical drugs, but was used here to determine the basal level response of human cancer cell lines to visible light of different wavelengths, without any photo(chemo)therapeutic. The effects of blue (455 nm, 10.5 mW cm−2), green (520 nm, 20.9 mW cm−2), and red light (630 nm, 34.4 mW cm−2) irradiation was measured for A375 (human malignant melanoma), A431 (human epidermoid carcinoma), A549 (human lung carcinoma), MCF7 (human mammary gland adenocarcinoma), MDA-MB-231 (human mammary gland adenocarcinoma), and U-87 MG (human glioblastoma-grade IV) cell lines. In response to a blue light dose of 19 J cm−2, three cell lines exhibited a minimal (20%, MDA-MB-231) to moderate (30%, A549 and 60%, A375) reduction in cell viability, compared to dark controls. The other cell lines were not affected. Effective blue light doses that produce a therapeutic response in 50% of the cell population (ED50) compared to dark conditions were found to be 10.9 and 30.5 J cm−2 for A375 and A549 cells, respectively. No adverse effects were observed in any of the six cell lines irradiated with a 19 J cm−2 dose of 520 nm (green) or 630 nm (red) light. The results demonstrate that blue light irradiation can have an effect on the viability of certain human cancer cell types and controls should be used in photopharmaceutical testing, which uses high-energy (blue or violet) visible light activation.