Synthesis of hydrophilic conjugated porphyrin dimers for one-photon and two-photon photodynamic therapy at NIR wavelengths

Milan Balaz, Hazel A. Collins, Emma Dahlstedt, Harry L. Anderson

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125 Citations (Scopus)


We report the synthesis of a series of hydrophilic butadiyne-linked conjugated zinc porphyrin dimers (1-7), designed as photodynamic therapy (PDT) agents. These porphyrin dimers exhibit exceptionally high two-photon absorption cross sections (δmax≈ 8,000-17,000 GM) and red-shifted linear absorption spectra (λmax≈ 700-800 nm) making them ideal candidates for one-photon and two-photon excited photodynamic therapy. Four polar triethyleneglycol substituents are positioned along the sides of each dimer, but, on their own, these TEG chains do not confer sufficient solubility in aqueous physiological media for reproducible delivery into live cells. Charged cationic (methylpyridinium and trimethylammonium) and anionic (sulfonate and carboxylate) substituents have been appended to the meso-positions of porphyrin dimers using three synthetic strategies: 1) Suzuki coupling, 2) Sonogashira coupling, and 3) nucleophilic Senge arylation. Approaches 1 and 3 both allow attachment of aromatic substituents directly to the meso-positions of porphyrins. Approach 2 provides a route to hydrophilic porphyrin dimers with an ethyne link between the porphyrin and the polar aromatic substituent. The palladium-catalysed approaches 1 and 2 allow the synthesis of a broader range of meso-capped porphyrins, as many aryl halides are available. However the synthesis of the intermediate required for these routes necessitates a statistical reaction step, which decreases the overall yield. On the other hand, Senge-arylation provides highly regioselective nucleophilic aromatic substitution, and offers higher overall yield than the other routes. All these charged dimers exhibit good solubility in polar solvents (e.g. methanol) and aqueous solvent mixtures (aqueous DMSO or DMF).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-888
Number of pages15
JournalOrganic and Biomolecular Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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