Lasers in Medical Science

, Volume 34, Issue 7, pp 1353–1363 | Cite as

The photocytotoxicity effect of cationic sulfonated corrole towards lung cancer cells: in vitro and in vivo study

  • Zhao Zhang
  • Hua-Jun Yu
  • Hui Huang
  • Bei Wan
  • Shang Wu
  • Hai-Yang LiuEmail author
  • Hai-Tao ZhangEmail author
Original Article


Corrole is a kind of new and promising photosensitizer (PS) in cancer photodynamic therapy (PDT). However, the protein molecular mechanism of PDT activity for corrole under light irradiation is still not clear. In this paper, water-soluble cationic sulfonated corrole (1) and its metal complexes (1-Fe, 1-Mn, and 1-Cu) were prepared, and the photodynamic anti-cancer activity against various tumor cells was investigated by MTT assay. The potential molecular mechanism of PDT activity was elucidated by fluorescence microscope, flow cytometry, molecular docking, and western blotting analysis. Besides, the potential PDT anti-tumor effect of 1 in vivo was assessed in human tumor xenografts in mice. Quantitative analysis revealed that 1’s phototoxicity triggered a significant generation of reactive oxygen species, causing disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential. The results of western blotting (WB) assay shown in 1’s phototoxicity could induce cell apoptosis via ROS-mediated mitochondrial caspase apoptosis pathway, in which SIRT1 protein degradation played a key role. PTD activity in vivo shown in 1 could significantly reduce the growth of A549 xenografted tumor, without obvious loss of mice body weight. We clearly found that cationic sulfonated corrole is a potential candidate of PS in vitro and in vivo. The phototoxicity of 1 could induce A549 cell apoptosis by inducing ROS production increase, further to activate the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. We concluded that SIRT1 protein is a more appropriate target in this progress.


Corrole Photocytotoxicity ROS-mediated SIRT1 



This work is financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC) (Nos. 21671068, 81772634), Postdoctoral Initial Foundation of Guangdong Medical University (No. BH08073), Science Foundation of Guangdong Medical University (No. 2001/2XK16042), and Science Foundation of Zhanjiang (2017B01064).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving animal participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee. Animal experiments were performed in accordance with protocols approved by the institutional ethics committee of Guangdong Medical University (ID Number GDY1702014), and the detailed information can be found in the suggestion of animal research ethics.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyGuangdong Medical UniversityZhanjiangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Key Laboratory of Functional Molecular Engineering of Guangdong ProvinceSouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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