Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is dependent on the uptake of a photosensitizing dye, often a porphyrin-related macrocycle, by the tumor or other abnormal tissue that is to be treated, the subsequent irradiation of the tumor with visible light of an appropriate wavelength matched to the absorption spectrum of the dye, and molecular oxygen to generate reactive oxygen intermediates. The initial oxidative reactions lead to damage to organelles in which the dye is bound, culminating in cell death and destruction of the tumor or abnormal tissue. Apoptosis is a common mechanism of cell death after PDT both in vitro and in vivo. PDT also triggers the activation of several signal transduction pathways in the treated cells; some of these are stress responses aimed at cell protection, while others are likely to contribute to the cell death process. The photosensitizers of greatest interest in PDT bind to various cytoplasmic membranes but are not found in the nucleus and do not bind to DNA. Nevertheless, some DNA damage is produced that can lead to mutagenesis, the extent of which is dependent on the photosensitizer, the cellular repair properties and the target gene. Thus, in spite of generating some responses common to ionizing radiation and other oxidative stresses, PDT is unique in the subcellular localization of damage, the combination of signaling pathways that are activated, and rapid kinetics of the induction of cell death processes.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.