Archives of Pharmacal Research

, Volume 42, Issue 11, pp 990–999 | Cite as

Synergistic effect of buthionine sulfoximine on the chlorin e6-based photodynamic treatment of cancer cells

  • Hye Myeong Lee
  • Do Hoon Kim
  • Hye Lim Lee
  • Byungyoul Cha
  • Dae Hwan KangEmail author
  • Young-IL JeongEmail author
Research Article


In this study, we investigated the synergistic effect of l-buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) on the chlorin e6 (Ce6)-based photodynamic therapy (PDT) of cancer cells. Among various cancer cells, HCT116 cells have highest intracellular L-glutathione (GSH) level and SNU478 cells showed the lowest GSH level. BSO alone showed negligible intrinsic cytotoxicity against CCD986sk cells. Since HCT116 and SNU478 cells showed the highest and the lowest intracellular GSH levels, respectively, those were used to test synergistic effect on the Ce6-based PDT. In the absence of light, BSO and Ce6 combination did not practically increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) in either of HCT116 or SNU478 cells, while light irradiation increased ROS level dose-dependently. 10 μM BSO treatment significantly depleted total GSH level in cancer cells, i.e. total GSH level decreased to one-fourth of the control in HCT116 cells while it decreased to two-fifth of the control treatment at SNU478 cell. BSO showed synergistic effect on the ROS production in HCT116 cells while it has practically no benefits in ROS production of SNU478 cells. No synergistic effect was observed in viability of SNU478 cells because BSO itself was cytotoxic to SNU478 cells. However, BSO had negligible cytotoxicity against HCT116 cells and showed synergistic anticancer effect in combination with Ce6-based PDT. Furthermore, the addition of glutathione reduced ethyl ester (GSH-OEt), recovered intracellular GSH level, and cell viability with reduced the intracellular ROS level. We suggest that synergistic effect of BSO in the Ce6-based PDT should be considered with intrinsic intracellular GSH level of cancer cells.


l-buthionine sulfoximine Photodynamic therapy Chlorin e6 Synergistic anticancer effect 



This work was supported by Research Institute for Convergence of Biomedical Science and technology, Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital (30-2018-011).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declared no potential conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12272_2019_1179_MOESM1_ESM.docx (412 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 412 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Pharmaceutical Society of Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute for Convergence of Biomedical Science and Technology, Pusan National University Yangsan HospitalYangsanRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Integrative Physiology and PathobiologyTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Gimhae Biomedical CenterGimhaeSouth Korea
  4. 4.D.R.Nano Co. Ltd, Korea Institute of Science and TechnologySeoulSouth Korea

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