Pheophorbide a, a moiety of chlorophyll a, induces apoptosis in human lymphoid leukemia molt 4B cells

Int J Mol Med. 2000 Sep;6(3):277-9.


The exposure of human lymphoid leukemia Molt 4B cells to pheophorbide a (PPB a), a moiety of chlorophyll a, led both to growth inhibition and induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis). The growth inhibition by PPB a was much stronger than that by chlorophyll a. Morphological change showing apoptotic bodies was observed in the Molt 4B cells treated with PPB a. The fragmentation by PPB a of DNA to oligonucleosomal-sized fragments, that are characteristics of apoptosis, was observed to be concentration- and time-dependent. These findings suggest that growth inhibition by PPB a of Molt 4B cells results from the induction of apoptosis and that PPB a, moiety of chlorophyll a, is essential for exertion of antitumor and apoptosis-inducing activity in these cells.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Chlorophyll / analogs & derivatives*
  • Chlorophyll / pharmacology*
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • DNA, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / pathology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Chlorophyll
  • pheophorbide a