Phototoxicity in Microscopy Literature References

Phototoxicity often occurs upon repeated exposure of fluorescently labeled cells to illumination from lasers and high-intensity arc-discharge lamps. In their excited state, fluorescent molecules tend to react with molecular oxygen to produce free radicals that can damage subcellular components and compromise the entire cell. In addition, several reports have suggested that particular constituents of standard culture media, including the vitamin riboflavin and the amino acid tryptophan, may also contribute to adverse light-induced effects on cultured cells. Fluorescent proteins, due to the fact that their fluorophores are buried deep within a protective polypeptide envelope, are generally not phototoxic to cells. However, many of the synthetic fluorophores, such as the MitoTracker and nuclear stains (Hoechst, SYTO cyanine dyes, and DRAQ5), can be highly toxic to cells when illuminated for even relatively short periods of time. In designing experiments, fluorophores that exhibit the longest excitation wavelengths possible should be chosen in order to minimize damage to cells by short wavelength illumination.

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Cellular Phototoxicity