The kinetics for the quantitatively important reaction: (Formula: see text) that is, the photochemical interconversion between bilirubin and its geometric and structural photoisomers bound to human serum albumin in aqueous solution when various wavelengths of monochromatic light were used, were assayed by h.p.l.c. In order to clarify the wavelength-dependence of the relative rate constants in the individual steps, a light-source with a half-bandwidth of 10 nm was used at increments of 20 nm, in the range from 410 nm to 550 nm. We describe for the first time studies on the wavelength-dependence of rate constants in geometric and structural photoisomerization reactions in vitro of (ZZ)-bilirubin or (EZ)-bilirubin bound to human serum albumin, especially the relative rate constants of cyclization of (EZ)-bilirubin into (EZ)-cyclobilirubin. Because studies in vitro have demonstrated that the wavelengths from 350 to 450 nm are mutagenic, the results obtained indicated that the safest and ideal light-source for phototherapy is green light of 510 nm, which keeps (ZE)-bilirubin concentrations as low as possible, as shown by a maximal value of k2 at 510 nm and a relatively low value of k1 at 510 nm. This light-source still ensures the substantial absorption of (ZZ)-bilirubin, which is the precursor of (EZ)-bilirubin, the intermediate in (EZ)-cyclobilirubin formation and, furthermore, as shown by the maximal value of k5 and a considerable value of k4 at 510 nm, promotes the cyclization of (EZ)-bilirubin derived from (ZZ)-bilirubin even though k3 at 510 nm also shows a peak value.

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