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Cellular Mechanisms and Prospective Applications of Hypericin in Photodynamic Therapy

[ Vol. 13 , Issue. 18 ]


Tobias Kiesslich, Barbara Krammer and Kristjan Plaetzer   Pages 2189 - 2204 ( 16 )


During the last decades, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) has been established as a powerful alternative approved by health agencies of several countries for treatment of various malignant and some non-malignant diseases. PDT makes use of the light-induced destruction of target cells by formation of cytotoxic products in the presence of a photosensitizing agent and oxygen. The light-dependent tumor destructive properties of Hypericin have drawn attention to its promising application as a photosensitizer in the frame of PDT. Hypericin is a naturally occurring secondary metabolite in plants of the Hypericum genus, with Hypericum perforatum (St. Johns wort) as it is a commonly known representative. This review focuses on the cellular mechanisms of Hypericin-based phototoxicity and provides an outlook for future application of Hypericin as a fluorescing and photosensitizing agent for diagnosis and treatment of cancerous diseases, respectively.


Photodynamic Therapy, Hypericin, Clinical anti-cancer treatment, Apoptosis, Cell death mechanisms, Photophysical Diagnosis


Department of Molecular Biology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, 5020 Salzburg,Austria.

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