The photodynamic antibacterial effects of silicon phthalocyanine (Pc) 4

Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Apr 8;16(4):7851-60. doi: 10.3390/ijms16047851.


The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains in facultative anaerobic Gram-positive coccal bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is a global health issue. Typically, MRSA strains are found associated with institutions like hospitals but recent data suggest that they are becoming more prevalent in community-acquired infections. It is thought that the incidence and prevalence of bacterial infections will continue to increase as (a) more frequent use of broad-spectrum antibiotics and immunosuppressive medications; (b) increased number of invasive medical procedures; and (c) higher incidence of neutropenia and HIV infections. Therefore, more optimal treatments, such as photodynamic therapy (PDT), are warranted. PDT requires the interaction of light, a photosensitizing agent, and molecular oxygen to induce cytotoxic effects. In this study, we investigated the efficacy and characterized the mechanism of cytotoxicity induced by photodynamic therapy sensitized by silicon phthalocyanine (Pc) 4 on (a) methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) (ATCC 25923); (b) community acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) (ATCC 43300); and (c) hospital acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA) (PFGE type 300). Our data include confocal image analysis, which confirmed that Pc 4 is taken up by all S. aureus strains, and viable cell recovery assay, which showed that concentrations as low as 1.0 μM Pc 4 incubated for 3 h at 37 °C followed by light at 2.0 J/cm2 can reduce cell survival by 2-5 logs. These results are encouraging, but before PDT can be utilized as an alternative treatment for eradicating resistant strains, we must first characterize the mechanism of cell death that Pc 4-based PDT employs in eliminating these pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Organosilicon Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Photochemotherapy / methods
  • Photosensitizing Agents / pharmacology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcus aureus / classification
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Indoles
  • Organosilicon Compounds
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • silicon phthalocyanine