Syntheses and Cellular Investigations of 173-, 152-, and 131-Amino Acid Derivatives of Chlorin e6

A series of amino acid conjugates of chlorin e6, containing lysine or aspartic acid residues in positions 173, 152, or 131 of the macrocycle were synthesized and investigated as photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy of tumors. All three regioisomers were synthesized in good yields and in five steps or less from pheophytin a (1). In vitro investigations using human carcinoma HEp2 cells show that the 152-lysyl regioisomers accumulate the most within cells, and the most phototoxic are the 131 regioisomers. The main determinant of biological efficacy appears to be the conjugation site, probably because of molecular conformation. Molecular modeling investigations reveal that the 173-substituted chlorin e6 conjugates are L-shaped, the 152 and 131 regioisomers assume extended conformations, and the 131 derivatives are nearly linear. It is hypothesized that the 131-aspartylchlorin e6 conjugate may be a more efficient photosensitizer for PDT than the commercial currently used 152 derivative.