Antimetastatic activity of the photodynamic agent hypericin in the dark

Michael Blank, Gad Lavie, Mathilda Mandel, Sadick Hazan, Arie Urenstein, Daniel Meruelo, Yona Keisari*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


A unique property of the photodynamic signal transduction inhibitor hypericin (HY) is high functionality in the dark, which has been shown to result in portfolio of anticancer activities both in vitro and in vivo. Here we show that treatment with HY significantly reduces growth rate of metastases in 2 murine models: breast adenocarcinoma (DA3) and squamous cell carcinoma (SQ2). Focus on metastases was achieved by resection of primary tumors at stages in which micrometastases exist in lungs. Long-term animal survival in DA3 tumor-excised groups increased from 15.6% in controls to 34.5% following supplementary treatment with HY. In mice bearing SQ2 tumor metastases, therapy with HY increased animal survival from 17.7% in controls to 46.1%. Using Laser-induced fluorescence and multipixel spectral image analyses, we demonstrate that HY has a high tendency to accumulate in primary and metastatic tumors; HY content in lungs bearing metastases was approximately 2-fold higher than in the lungs of healthy animals. The tendency of HY to preferentially concentrate in lung metastases, combined with its potent antiproliferative activities, may render HY as a useful supplementary modality in the treatment of metastatic cancer irrespective of photoactivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-603
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - 10 Sep 2004


  • Antitumoral agent
  • Hsp90 inhibitor
  • Hypericin
  • Metastases


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