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J Urol. 2003 Aug;170(2 Pt 1):428-32.

Comparison of aminolevulinic acid and hexylester aminolevulinate induced protoporphyrin IX distribution in human bladder cancer.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland.



Successful photodynamic therapy of epithelial cancer requires a specific photosensitization of malignant tissue. We evaluate the intensity and localization of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) in superficial transitional cell carcinoma and nonmalignant cells of the human bladder following topical administration of its precursor, either aminolevulinic acid (ALA) or hexylester aminolevulinate (HAL).


Solutions of ALA or HAL were instilled into the bladder of 18 patients presenting with recurrent transitional cell carcinoma. The distribution of PpIX through the bladder wall was studied on frozen biopsies using fluorescence microscopy and correlated with pathological findings.


Topical bladder instillation with 180 mmol (3%) ALA administered for 6 hours or 8 mmol (0.2%) HAL administered for 4 hours gave similar results regarding intensity and tissue distribution of PpIX fluorescence, whereas 8 mmol HAL administered for 2 hours followed by 2 hours of resting time (2+2 hours concept) induced a PpIX fluorescence twice as high. The fluorescence remained limited to cancer cells. Only a trace of PpIX fluorescence was observed in suburothelial connective tissue, that is chorion, but none in the bladder smooth muscle regardless of experiment conditions.


HAL is an excellent precursor for PpIX synthesis in bladder cancer. With the 2+2 hour topical administration condition it yielded the highest PpIX fluorescence intensity and fluorescence contrast between normal and malignant urothelial cells. This approach allows us to optimize PpIX tissue distribution for photodynamic therapy in superficial bladder cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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