Purpose: To investigate the light-induced decomposition of indocyanine green (ICG) and to test the cytotoxicity of light-induced ICG decomposition products.
Methods: ICG in solution was irradiated with laser light, solar light, or surgical endolight. The light-induced decomposition of ICG was analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry. Porcine retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells were incubated with the light-induced decomposition products of ICG, and cell viability was measured by trypan blue exclusion assay.
Results: Independent of the light source used, singlet oxygen (photodynamic type 2 reaction) is generated by ICG leading to dioxetanes by [2+2]-cycloaddition of singlet oxygen. These dioxetanes thermally decompose into several carbonyl compounds. The decomposition products were identified by mass spectrometry. The decomposition of ICG was inhibited by adding sodium azide, a quencher of singlet oxygen. Incubation with ICG decomposition products significantly reduced the viability of RPE cells in contrast to control cells.
Conclusions: ICG is decomposed by light within a self-sensitized photo oxidation. The decomposition products reduce the viability of RPE cells in vitro. The toxic effects of decomposed ICG should be further investigated under in vivo conditions.