Photodynamic therapy mediated by acai oil (Euterpe oleracea Martius) in nanoemulsion: A potential treatment for melanoma

J Photochem Photobiol B. 2017 Jan:166:301-310. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2016.12.002. Epub 2016 Dec 9.


Melanoma is the most aggressive and lethal form of skin cancer, responsible for >80% of deaths. Standard treatments for late-stage melanoma usually present poor results, leading to life-threatening side effects and low overall survival. Thus, it is necessary to rethink treatment strategies and design new tools for the treatment of this disease. On that ground, we hereby report the use of acai oil in nanoemulsion (NanoA) as a novel photosensitizer for photodynamic therapy (PDT) used to treat melanoma in in vitro and in vivo experimental models. NIH/3T3 normal cells and B16F10 melanoma cell lines were treated with PDT and presented 85% cell death for melanoma cells, while maintaining high viability in normal cells. Flow cytometry indicated that cell death occurred by late apoptosis/necrosis. Tumor bearing C57BL/6 mice treated five times with PDT using acai oil in nanoemulsion showed tumor volume reduction of 82% in comparison to control/tumor group. Necrotic tissue per tumor area reached its highest value in PDT-treated mice, supporting PDT efficacy. Overall, acai oil in nanoemulsion was an effective photosensitizer, representing a promising source of new photosensitizing molecules for PDT treatment of melanoma, a tumor with an inherent tendency to be refractory for this type of therapy.

Keywords: B16F10; C57BL/6; Melanoma; Nanobiotechnology; Photodynamic therapy; Phototoxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Emulsions*
  • Euterpe / chemistry*
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Nanotechnology
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*


  • Emulsions
  • Plant Oils