Institute of Pharmacy/Pharmacognosy, Center for Molecular Biosciences Innsbruck (CMBI), Center for Chemistry and Biomedicine, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 80-82, Innsbruck, 6020 Austria. Email: [Email]
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an alternative approach for the treatment of neoplastic diseases employing photosensitizers activated by light. In order to discover new natural photosensitizers, a convenient workflow was established. To validate the workflow, fungi were selected, because we hypothesized that fruiting bodies and mycelia are an overlooked source. The results proved the hypothesis, as exorbitant high photo-cytotoxicity values were detected. For example, the acetone extract of Cortinarius croceus was characterized by an EC50, 9.3 J cm-2 of 1 μg mL-1 against cells of a lung cancer cell-line (A549). In sum, a low-cost workflow for the detection and biological evaluation of photosensitizers is presented and discussed. Furthermore, this paper provides the first experimental evidence for phototoxic metabolites in basidiomycetes. This hints towards a new assignable function of fungal pigments, i.e. photochemical defense.