Liposomes incorporating porphyrin-phospholipid (PoP) can be formulated to release entrapped contents in response to near-infrared (NIR) laser irradiation. Here, we examine effects of chelating copper or zinc into the PoP. Cu(II) and Zn(II) PoP liposomes, containing 10 molar % HPPH-lipid, exhibited unique photophysical properties and released entrapped cargo in response to NIR light. Cu-PoP liposomes exhibited minimal fluorescence and reduced production of reactive oxygen species upon irradiation. Zn-PoP liposomes retained fluorescence and singlet oxygen generation properties; however, they rapidly self-bleached under laser irradiation. Compared to the free base form, both Cu- and Zn-PoP liposomes exhibited reduced phototoxicity in mice. When loaded with mitoxantrone and administered intravenously at 5 mg/kg to mice bearing human pancreatic cancer xenografts, synergistic effects between the drug and the light treatment (for this particular dose and formulation) were realized with metallo-PoP liposomes. The drug-light-interval affected chemophototherapy efficacy and safety.
Keywords: Chemophototherapy; light-triggered; liposomes; metalloporphyrins; mitoxantrone; photobleaching; porphyrin-phospholipid; tumor ablation.