Objectives: We tested whether methylene blue, an inexpensive and safe photosensitizer, is feasible for photodynamic inactivation of enterovirus 71 (EV71) in the environment. Methods: By escalating light doses and photosensitizer concentrations, photoinactivation of EV71 and other enteroviruses was examined in vitro. Viral transmission in the environment was simulated with a neonatal mouse model in vivo. Possible mechanisms were analysed with alterations of viral DNA and proteins after treatments. Results: Photodynamic inactivation of EV71 in suspensions occurred in a dose-dependent manner. The optimal condition for photoinactivating EV71 required a light dose of 200 J/cm2 in the presence of methylene blue. This photodynamic condition was also able to inactivate other enteroviruses, including poliovirus 1 and coxsackieviruses A2, A3, A16 and B3. In an imitation environment, EV71 spread on a solid surface was inactivated by methylene blue-mediated photodynamic inactivation and prevented EV71 transmission to mice. Western blot and RT-PCR analysis indicated that both the viral proteins and the genome were disrupted after photodynamic inactivation. Conclusions: Methylene blue-mediated photodynamic inactivation may provide a novel way to eliminate environmentally contaminated sources of EV71 to prevent infection.
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