This study investigated whether diffuse optical spectroscopy (DOS) measurements could assess clinical response to photodynamic therapy (PDT) in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In addition, the correlation between parameters measured with DOS and the crosslinking of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), a molecular marker for PDT-induced photoreaction, was investigated. Thirteen patients with early stage HNSCC received the photosensitizer 2-[1-hexyloxyethyl]-2-devinylpyropheophorbide-a (HPPH) and DOS measurements were performed before and after PDT in the operating room (OR). In addition, biopsies were acquired after PDT to assess the STAT3 crosslinking. Parameters measured with DOS, including blood volume fraction, blood oxygen saturation (StO2), HPPH concentration (cHPPH), HPPH fluorescence, and blood flow index (BFI), were compared to the pathologic response and the STAT3 crosslinking. The best individual predictor of pathological response was a change in cHPPH (sensitivity=60%, specificity=100%), while discrimination analysis using a two-parameter classifier (change in cHPPH and change in StO2) classified pathological response with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity. BFI showed the best correlation with the crosslinking of STAT3. These results indicate that DOS-derived parameters can assess the clinical response in the OR, allowing for earlier reintervention if needed.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has recently emerged as a potential treatment alternative for head and neck cancer. There is
strong evidence that imprecise PDT dosimetry results in variations in clinical responses. Quantitative tools are likely to
play an essential role in bringing PDT to a full realization of its potential benefits. They can provide standardization of
site-specific individualized protocols that are used to monitor both light and photosensitizer (HPPH) dose, as well as the
tissue response for individual patients. To accomplish this, we used a custom instrument and a hand-held probe that
allowed quantification of blood flow, blood volume, blood oxygen saturation and drug concentration.