Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves the combination of a photosensitizer and light of a specific wavelength. Upon light activation in the presence of oxygen, photosensitizer molecules generate reactive oxygen species that cause cytotoxicity by inducing oxidative stress. Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is a pro-drug used for the diagnosis and PDT treatment of various solid tumors based on endogenous production of heme precursor protoporphyrin IX (PpIX). Although nearly all types of human cells express heme biosynthesis enzymes and produce PpIX, tumor cells are found to have more PpIX production and accumulation than normal cells, allowing for the detection and treatment of solid tumors.
The objective of my research is to explore therapeutic approaches to enhance ALA-based tumor detection and therapy. We have found that high ABCG2 transporter activity in triple negative breast cancer cells (TNBC) contributed to reduced PpIX levels in cells, causing them to be more resistant towards ALA-PDT. The administration of an ABCG2 inhibitor, Ko143, was able to reverse cell resistance to ALA-PDT by enhancing PpIX mitochondrial accumulation and sensitizing cancer cells to ALA-PDT. Ko143 treatment had little effect on PpIX production and ALA-PDT in normal and ER- or HER2-positive cells. Furthermore, since some tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are known to block ABCG2 transporter activity, we screened a panel of tyrosine kinase inhibitors to examine its effect on enhancing PpIX fluorescence and ALA-PDT efficacy. Several TKIs including lapatinib and gefitinib showed effectiveness in increasing ALA-PpIX fluorescence in TNBC leading to increased cell death after PDT administration. These results indicate that inhibiting ABCG2 transporter using TKIs is a promising approach for targeting TNBC with ALA-based modality.
Bin Chen, "Aminolevulinic acid-mediated protoporphyrin IX and photodynamic therapy for breast cancers (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10047, Optical Methods for Tumor Treatment and Detection: Mechanisms and Techniques in Photodynamic Therapy XXVI, 1004704 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 28, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253509.5370262178001.
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