Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 23–24, pp 9687–9695 | Cite as

Photoinactivation of dormant Mycobacterium smegmatis due to its endogenous porphyrins

  • Margarita O. ShleevaEmail author
  • Alexander P. Savitsky
  • Vadim D. Nikitushkin
  • Iliya D. Solovyev
  • Nataliya I. Kazachkina
  • Vladimir V. Perevarov
  • Arseny S. Kaprelyants
Applied microbial and cell physiology


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is able to transition into a dormant state, causing a latent state of tuberculosis. Dormant mycobacteria acquire phenotypic resistance to all known antibacterial drugs; they are also able to maintain vitality in the host for decades and become active, causing the active form of the disease. In order to cure latent tuberculosis, new approaches should be developed. Earlier, we discovered accumulation in significant concentrations of porphyrins in dormant Mycobacterium smegmatis, which is a close, fast-growing relative of the causative agent of tuberculosis. In this study, we explore a new possibility to kill dormant mycobacteria by photodynamic inactivation (PDI) using accumulated porphyrins as endogenous photosensitisers. The dormant M. smegmatis were obtained under gradual acidification in Sauton’s medium, for 14 days. Cells were exposed to light with different wavelengths emitted by three Spectra X light-emitting diodes (395/25, 470/24, 575/25 nm) and one separated 634-nm LED for 15 min. An increase in the concentration of coproporphyrin in M. smegmatis after 6 days of growth correlated with the beginning of a decrease in metabolic activity and formation of ovoid dormant forms. Dormant bacteria were sensitive to PDI and killed after 15–30 min of illumination, in contrast to active cells. The greatest inactivation of dormant mycobacteria occurred at 395 and 575 nm, which coincides with the main maximum of the absorption spectrum of extracted porphyrins. We, for the first time, demonstrate a successful application of PDI for inactivation of dormant mycobacteria, due to significant accumulation of endogenous photosensitisers—porphyrins.


Mycobacterium smegmatis Porphyrin Photodynamic inactivation Dormant mycobacteria 


Funding information

This study was funded by the Russian Science Foundation grant 19-15-00324.

Compliance of ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Transparency declarations

None to declare.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margarita O. Shleeva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alexander P. Savitsky
    • 1
  • Vadim D. Nikitushkin
    • 1
  • Iliya D. Solovyev
    • 1
  • Nataliya I. Kazachkina
    • 1
  • Vladimir V. Perevarov
    • 1
  • Arseny S. Kaprelyants
    • 1
  1. 1.A.N. Bach Institute of BiochemistryFederal Research Centre ‘Fundamentals of Biotechnology’ of the Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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