Aggregation is a major problem for the anti-microbial photodynamic applications of hydrophobic photosensitizers since it strongly reduces the amount of singlet oxygen generated in aqueous solutions. Binding of hypericin (Hyp) to the milk whey protein β-lactoglobulin (βLG), occurring at the two hydrophobic cavities located at the interface of the protein homodimer, can be exploited to confer water-solubility and biocompatibility to the photosensitizer. The introduction of a small amount of the organic cosolvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) leads to a remarkable improvement of the photophysical properties of the complex Hyp-βLG by increasing its fluorescence emission and singlet oxygen photosensitization quantum yields. Surprisingly, the ability of the complex to photo-inactivate bacteria of the strain Staphylococcus aureus is strongly reduced in the presence of DMSO, despite the higher yield of photosensitization. The reasons for this apparently contradictory behavior are investigated, providing new insights into the use of carrier systems for hydrophobic photosensitizers.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of Materials Chemistry B: Materials for biology and medicine|
|Early online date||20 Jan 2017|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2017|