Apoptotic mechanism of MCF-7 breast cells in vivo and in vitro induced by photodynamic therapy with C-phycocyanin
The aim of this study was to investigate the pro-apoptotic mechanism of C-phycocyanin (C-PC)-mediated photodynamic therapy (PDT) in a murine tumor model and cultured MCF-7 cells. The mice were divided into four groups: control, He–Ne laser radiation, C-PC treatment, and C-PC treatment + He–Ne laser radiation. The effects of C-PC and/or laser on immune organs, immunocyte proliferation, tumor genesis, and apoptosis-related proteins expressions were investigated by immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, MTT, electron microscope, western blot, and immunofluorescence assay. The results showed that He–Ne laser treatment alone showed marginal effects. In C-PC-treated mice, the weight of immune organs, proliferation of immunocytes, and expression of pro-apoptotic Fas protein were increased, whereas the tumor weight and the expressions of anti-apoptotic proteins (NF-B and P53) and CD44 mRNA were comparatively decreased. In vitro, C-PC was able to inhibit MCF-7 cell proliferation and cause ultrastructural changes including microvilli loss, formation of membrane blebs, and chromatin condensation. Moreover, C-PC treatment could activate caspase-9 expression, induce cytochrome c release, and downregulate Bcl-2 expression. When combined with He–Ne laser irradiation, the effects of C-PC treatment were further enhanced. Facilitating the apoptosis signals transduction and finally leading to the apoptosis of MCF-7 cells may be the mechanism of the anti-tumor activities of C-PC-mediated PDT.