Photobiological research in the last 30 yr has shown the existence of ultraweak photon emission in biological tissue, which can be detected with sophisticated photomultiplier systems. Although the emission of this ultraweak radiation, often termed biophotons, is extremely low in mammalian cells, it can be efficiently increased by ultraviolet light. Most recently it was shown that UV-A (330 to 380 nm) releases such very weak cell radiation in differentiated human skin fibroblasts. Based on these findings, a new and powerful tool in the form of UV-A-laser-induced biophotonic emission of cultured cells was developed with the intention to detect biophysical changes between carcinogenic and normal cells. With suspension densities ranging from 1 to 8 x 10(6) cells/mL, it was evident that an increase of the UV-A-laser-light induced photon emission intensity could be observed in normal as well as melanoma cells. Using this new detection procedure of ultraweak light emission, photons in cell suspensions as low as 100 microL could be determined, which is a factor of 100 lower compared to previous procedures. Moreover, the detection procedure has been further refined by turning off the photomultiplier system electronically during irradiation leading to the first measurements of induced light emission in the cells after less than 10 micros instead of 150 ms, as reported in previous procedures. This improvement leads to measurements of light bursts up 10(7) photons/s instead of several hundred as found with classical designs. Overall, we find decreasing induction ratings between normal and melanoma cells as well as cancer-prone and melanoma cells. Therefore, it turns out that this highly sensitive and noninvasive device enables us to detect high levels of ultraweak photon emission following UV-A-laser-induced light stimulation within the cells, which enables future development of new biophysical strategies in cell research.
Copyright 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.