Site-selected thionated benzothioxanthene chromophores as heavy-atom-free small-molecule photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy
Marco Deiana, Pierre Josse, Clément Dalinot, Artem Osmolovskyi, Pablo Simón Marqués, José María Andrés Castán, Laura Abad Galán, Magali Allain, Lhoussain Khrouz, Olivier Maury, Tangui Le Bahers, Philippe Blanchard, Sylvie Dabos-Seignon, Cyrille Monnereau, Nasim Sabouri & Clément Cabanetos
Photodynamic therapy is a clinically approved anticancer modality that employs a light-activated agent (photosensitizer) to generate cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS). There is therefore a growing interest for developing innovative photosensitizing agents with enhanced phototherapeutic performances. Herein, we report on a rational design synthetic procedure that converts the ultrabright benzothioxanthene imide (BTI) dye into three heavy-atom-free thionated compounds featuring close-to-unit singlet oxygen quantum yields. In contrast to the BTI, these thionated analogs display an almost fully quenched fluorescence emission, in agreement with the formation of highly populated triplet states. Indeed, the sequential thionation on the BTI scaffold induces torsion of its skeleton reducing the singlet-triplet energy gaps and enhancing the spin-orbit coupling. These potential PSs show potent cancer-cell ablation under light irradiation while remaining non-toxic under dark condition owing to a photo-cytotoxic mechanism that we believe simultaneously involves singlet oxygen and superoxide species, which could be both characterized in vitro. Our study demonstrates that this simple site-selected thionated platform is an effective strategy to convert conventional carbonyl-containing fluorophores into phototherapeutic agents for anticancer PDT.
photodynamic therapy, anticanser, emission