Photochemical internalization: a new tool for gene and oligonucleotide delivery

Top Curr Chem. 2010;296:251-81. doi: 10.1007/128_2010_63.


Photochemical internalization (PCI) is a novel technology for release of endocytosed macromolecules into the cytosol. The technology is based on the use of photosensitizers located in endocytic vesicles. Upon activation by light such photosensitizers induce a release of macromolecules from their compartmentalization in endocytic vesicles. PCI has been shown to increase the biological activity of a large variety of macromolecules and other molecules that do not readily penetrate the plasma membrane, including type I ribosome-inactivating proteins, immunotoxins, plasmids, adenovirus, various oligonucleotides, dendrimer-based delivery of chemotherapeutica and unconjugated chemotherapeutica such as bleomycin and doxorubicin. This review will present the basis for the PCI concept and the most recent significant developments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytosol / drug effects
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Endocytosis / drug effects
  • Oligonucleotides / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotides / metabolism
  • Photochemical Processes*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / chemistry
  • Photosensitizing Agents / metabolism*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / pharmacology
  • Transfection / methods*


  • Oligonucleotides
  • Photosensitizing Agents