Liposomes encapsulating methylene blue and acridine orange: An approach for phototherapy of skin cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Photodynamic therapy uses photosensitizer molecules for the photo-mediated treatment of several diseases such as cancer and skin disorders. However, most of the photosensitizer molecules present problems such as aggregation and low solubility in physiological environments which hinders the treatment efficacy. To overcome these problems, the development of stable liposomes loading photosensitizing molecules as delivery systems can be explored as promising alternatives to enhance cellular uptake and the therapy's efficacy. In this work, liposomes composed by different lipids with or without surfactants were characterized for the encapsulation of photosensitizer molecules such as Methylene Blue (MB) and Acridine Orange (AO). Liposomes were produced by the thin-film hydration method followed by extrusion to reduce particle size and were characterized by Dynamic Light Scattering and Atomic Force Microscopy. Encapsulation efficiency was evaluated as well as the release profile of these molecules from the liposome systems. Cytotoxicity and phototoxicity studies were performed on keratinocytes with and without carcinoma. Results showed that liposome's stability depends on the composition of lipids regardless of the presence of surfactants. Most stable liposomes were those with cholesterol plus the surfactants Span® 80 or sodium cholate that were able to provide higher stability for the liposomes considering the MB and AO encapsulation. Encapsulation efficiency (EE) studies revealed that AO had greater affinity for the vesicles presenting high EE (>98%) while for MB the encapsulation was, in general, moderate (between 63% and 86%). Greater phototoxicity was observed for MET1 squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cells treated with AO liposomes, achieving similar half-maximal inhibition concentration (IC50) as for the free drug. Finally, two different possible approaches were found, namely, MB-liposomes with potential as a cytotoxic agent for cancer cells; and AO liposomes with a great phototoxicity potential at very low concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112901
Number of pages10
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Acridine orange
  • Liposomes
  • Methylene blue
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photosensitizers


Dive into the research topics of 'Liposomes encapsulating methylene blue and acridine orange: An approach for phototherapy of skin cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this