Send to

Choose Destination
Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2008 Mar;7(3):283-9. doi: 10.1039/b712847a. Epub 2007 Dec 7.

ALA and its clinical impact, from bench to bedside.

Author information

University of Salzburg, Department of Molecular Biology, Austria.


ALA-induced protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) is used for fluorescence diagnosis (ALA-FD) and for fluorescence-guided resection of both (pre)malignant and non-malignant diseases. ALA is also applied in photodynamic therapy (ALA-PDT) of superficial (pre)malignant lesions in dermatology, urology, neurosurgery, otorhinolaryngology, gynecology and gastroenterology. Today, ALA is approved as Levulan for actinic keratoses, the ALA-methyl ester Metvix for actinic keratoses and basal cell carcinoma, the ALA-hexyl ester Hexvix for the diagnosis of bladder cancer and Gliolan for malignant glioma. The use of ALA for PDT and FD was established around 25 years ago, with most of the fundamental knowledge gained at the "bench" and implemented at the "bedside" due to the diligence of a few researchers within the first 10 years of research. After 1993 ALA research was taken up by many groups. For patient treatment, several factors are relevant. Administered mainly in a topical or oral form, ALA penetrates tissue in a sub-optimal way, which is currently improved by special techniques and the use of ALA-esters. PpIX accumulation is elevated in many malignant tissues, several tissue abnormalities, and in mucosa. It is also found at elevated levels in macrophages, dendritic cells and activated lymphocytes. Following sufficient PpIX accumulation in the target cells, irradiation is carried out which may be accompanied by a burning sensation at the treatment site. Due to a saturation process of PpIX formation and rapid photobleaching during irradiation the risk of overtreatment is relatively low. Pharmacokinetical studies have demonstrated a low systemic photosensitivity and excretion of PpIX via natural routes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Royal Society of Chemistry
Loading ...
Support Center