Immunogenic cell death due to a new photodynamic therapy (PDT) with glycoconjugated chlorin (G-chlorin)

Oncotarget. 2016 Jul 26;7(30):47242-47251. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.9725.


Both the pre-apoptotic exposure to calreticulin (CRT) and the post-apoptotic release of high-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) are required for immunogenic cell death. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses non-toxic photosensitizers and visible light at a specific wavelength in combination with oxygen to produce cytotoxic reactive oxygen species that kill malignant cells by apoptosis and/or necrosis, shut down the tumor microvasculature, and stimulate the host immune system. We have previously shown that glycoconjugated chlorin (G-chlorin) has superior cancer cell selectivity and effectively suppresses the growth of xenograft tumors. In the present study, we evaluated the immunogenicity of PDT with G-chlorin treatment in colon cancer cells. PDT with G-chlorin suppressed CT26 (mouse colon cancer cells) tumor growth considerably more efficiently in immunocompetent mice (wild-type mice, allograft model) than in immune-deficient mice (nude mice, xenograft model), although control treatments were not different between the two. This treatment also induced CRT translocation and HMGB1 release in cells, as shown by western blot and immunofluorescence staining. To evaluate the use of PDT-treated cells as a tumor vaccine, we employed a syngeneic mouse tumor model (allograft model). Mice inoculated with PDT-treated CT26 cells were significantly protected against a subsequent challenge with live CT26 cells, and this protection was inhibited by siRNA for CRT or HMGB1. In conclusion, PDT with G-chlorin treatment induced immunogenic cell death in a mouse model, where the immunogenicity of this treatment was directed by CRT expression and HMGB1 release.

Keywords: calreticulin (CRT); glycoconjugated chlorin (G-chlorin); high-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1); immunogenic cell death (ICD); photodynamic therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Glycoconjugates / chemistry
  • Glycoconjugates / pharmacology*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / chemistry
  • Photosensitizing Agents / pharmacology*
  • Porphyrins / chemistry
  • Porphyrins / pharmacology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Glycoconjugates
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Porphyrins
  • chlorin