Identification and characterization of chlorin e(4) ethyl ester in sera of individuals participating in the chlorophyllin chemoprevention trial

Chem Res Toxicol. 2000 Sep;13(9):900-6. doi: 10.1021/tx000069k.


Chlorophyllin (CHL), a mixture of water soluble derivatives of chlorophyll, has been shown to be an effective inhibitor of aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1)) carcinogenesis and AFB(1)-DNA adduct formation in rainbow trout and rats [Breinholt, V., Hendricks, J., Pereira, C., Arbogast, D., and Bailey, G. (1995) Cancer Res. 55, 57-62; Kensler, T. W., Groopman, J. D., and Roebuck, B. D. (1998) Mutat. Res. 402, 165-172]. The chemopreventive action of CHL has been previously attributed to molecular complexing. In 1997, a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of CHL was conducted in Qidong, Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China. At the completion of the study, when serum samples were regrouped by subject identification number, it was noted that many of the participant samples were green in color. Using HPLC, ESI/MS, and MS/MS techniques, serum samples from individuals receiving CHL were found to contain previously unreported copper chlorin e(4) ethyl ester (CuCle(4) ethyl ester) as well as copper chlorin e(4) (CuCle(4)). Both chlorins originated in the study tablet, were absorbed into the bloodstream, and conferred a green color to the sera. This initial finding of in vivo absorption and bioavailability of two chlorin derivatives suggests that the mechanism of CHL chemoprevention may lie in the actions of these two components in vivo in addition to preventing carcinogen absorption from the gut.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aflatoxin B1 / adverse effects
  • Aflatoxin B1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aged
  • Chelating Agents / chemistry
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chlorophyllides / blood*
  • Chlorophyllides / chemistry
  • Chlorophyllides / therapeutic use
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Organometallic Compounds / analysis*
  • Organometallic Compounds / isolation & purification*


  • Chelating Agents
  • Chlorophyllides
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Aflatoxin B1
  • chlorophyllin