Light fractionation does not enhance the response to photodynamic therapy (PDT) after topical methyl-aminolevulinate (MAL) application, whereas it is after topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA). The differences in biophysical and biochemical characteristics between MAL and ALA may result in differences in localisation that cause the differences in response to PDT. We therefore investigated the spatial distribution of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) fluorescence in normal mouse skin using fluorescence microscopy and correlated that with the PDT response histologically observed at 2.5, 24 and 48 h after PDT. As expected high fluorescence intensities were observed in the epidermis and pilosebaceous units and no fluorescence in the cutaneous musculature after both MAL and ALA application. The dermis showed localised fluorescence that corresponds to the cytoplasma of dermal cells like fibroblast and mast cells. Spectral analysis showed a typical PpIX fluorescence spectrum confirming that it is PpIX fluorescence. There was no clear difference in the depth and spatial distribution of PpIX fluorescence between the two precursors in these normal mouse skin samples. This result combined with the conclusion of Moan et al. that ALA but not MAL is systemically distributed after topical application on mouse skin [Moan et al., Pharmacology of protoporphyrin IX in nude mice after application of ALA and ALA esters, Int. J. Cancer 103 (2003) 132-135] suggests that endothelial cells are involved in increased response of tissues to ALA-PDT using light fractionation. Histological analysis 2.5 h after PDT showed more edema formation after ALA-PDT compared to MAL-PDT that was not accompanied by a difference in the inflammatory response. This suggests that endothelial cells respond differently to ALA and MAL-PDT. Further investigation is needed to determine the role of endothelial cells in ALA-PDT and the underlying mechanism behind the increased effectiveness of light fractionation using a dark interval of 2 h found after ALA but not after MAL-PDT.

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Keywords Aminolevulinic acid, Light fractionation, Localisation, Methyl 5-aminolevulinate, Photodynamic therapy, Protoporphyrin IX
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Journal Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, B: Biology
de Bruijn, H.S, Meijers, C, van der Ploeg-van den Heuvel, A, Sterenborg, H.J.C.M, & Robinson, D.J. (2008). Microscopic localisation of protoporphyrin IX in normal mouse skin after topical application of 5-aminolevulinic acid or methyl 5-aminolevulinate. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, B: Biology, 92(2), 91–97. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2008.05.005