Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment modality with potential application for premalignant lesions and squamous cell carcinoma of the oral mucosa. PDT in principle has dual selectivity. This may result from a 'preferential' retention of the photosensitizer in target tissue. In addition, the photodynamic activity will be limited to the irradiated area because PDT will not affect tissues in the absence of excitation light. The specificity of PDT is limited by the fact that normal tissues also retain the photosensitizer to some degree, which makes these tissues susceptible to PDT damage. To optimize PDT for oral malignancies, a study was undertaken on normal tissue to investigate the responses in rat palatal mucosa and surrounding anatomical structures. Eighty male Wistar rats were used in the study. Photofrin was administered i,v. at four doses (0, 2.5, 5 or 10 mg kg -1 body weight). Irradiation for PDT was performed 24 h later. An argon pumped dye laser system was used to produce light of two different treatment wavelengths (514.5 and 625 nm), and various energy density levels (0, 25, 50, 100 or 200 J cm-2). Early effects of PDT were studied at 2 days and late effects at 2 months after treatment. Twenty-four hours after i.v. administration of Photofrin, it was found that PDT affects normal tissues of the oral cavity both macroscopically and microscopically. Combinations of photosensitizer doses ≤ 5 mg kg(-1) and light doses ≤ 100 J cm-2 caused severe and permanent damage to the palatal mucosa and adjacent normal structures such as palatal bone and dentition. Light scattering and internal reflection usually raise the fluence rate in tissue above the irradiance of the incident beam. In an additional study using six male Wistar rats, the energy fluence rate at two treatment wavelengths (514.5 and 625 nm) was measured ex vivo in the palatal mucosa and adjacent anatomical structures. As expected, the energy fluence rates were wavelength, tissue and depth dependent. At the air-mucosa boundary, light of 625 nm was found to have a three-times higher fluence rate than the primary incident beam. Under similar conditions, the fluence rate of 514.5 nm was found to be less, but still twice as high as the primary incident beam. At deeper levels of the rat maxilla, fluence rates were still elevated compared with the incident beam. For 625 nm light, this phenomenon was observed up to the level of the nasal cavity. These increased fluence rates could largely explain the pattern of damage to normal mucosa and surrounding anatomical structures.

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Lasers in Medical Science
Department of Immunology

Nauta, J., van Leengoed, H. L. L. M., Witjes, M. U. H., Roodenburg, J. L. N., Nikkels, P., Thomsen, S., … Star, W. (1996). Photofrin-mediated photodynamic therapy of rat Palatal Mucosa: Normal tissue effects and light dosimetry. Lasers in Medical Science, 11(3), 163–174. doi:10.1007/BF02156758