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ABSTRACT: The photosensitizing action of furocoumarins on biological systems occurs by both an oxygen-independent pathway, which involves the photoaddition of the sensitizer to nucleic acids, proteins and lipids, and an oxygen-dependent pathway, which includes furocoumarins in the category of photodynamic sensitizers. The photodynamic action of furocoumarins, as studied using isolated biomolecules, human erythrocytes and human skin, appears to involve both activated oxygen species (singlet oxygen, superoxide anion, and hydroxyl radicals) and radical species formed by electron transfer from or to photoexcited furocoumarins. Another oxygen-dependent process involves the formation of photo-oxidized furocoumarin derivatives, which can react in the dark with several substrates (in particular, membrane components), causing an irreversible damage of cells. The latter type of process is temperature dependent. The relative importance of the different photosensitization mechanisms under various experimental conditions is discussed.
Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology. 01/1991;