Photodynamic therapy mediates immediate loss of cellular responsiveness to cytokines and growth factors

Tak Wah Wong, Erin Tracy, Allan R. Oseroff, Heinz Baumann

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a minimally invasive procedure with increasing promise in treatment of malignant and nonmalignant diseases. Most PDT studies have focused on issues of how to enhance the photocytotoxic reaction leading to apoptosis and/or necrosis of targeted tumor cells. However, the reactions of surviving cancer cells, as well as normal host cells, are important elements that contribute to the outcome. Little is known about how these cells at sites of treatment react to inflammatory cytokines and growth factors that are elicited by PDT. To answer this question, we treated several epithelial cancer cell lines and normal epithelial and stromal cells with membrane- and mitochondria-damaging PDT. At different time points after PDT, cells were stimulated with interleukin 6 class cytokines or epidermal growth factor (EGF). Cellular responsiveness was determined by the activation of signaling proteins. We found that within the time period of PDT reaction, both normal and malignant cells lost their responsiveness to the cytokines and growth factor in a PDT dose-dependent manner. Photosensitizers targeted to the plasma membrane or mitochondria had similar effects. The recovery of responsiveness required 48-72 h and was accompanied by resumption of cell proliferation. Although the loss of EGF response could be explained by the immediate degradation of EGF receptor, the loss of cytokine response was only, in part, correlated with a reduction in cytokine receptor proteins. A PDT-mediated reduction of Janus protein tyrosine kinase-1 was also observed in HeLa cells. Our results demonstrate that PDT alters the regulatory capability of normal and tumor cells by lowering the responsiveness to factors that are known to assist in tissue repair and immune response. This effect of PDT has to be considered when predicting outcome of PDT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3812-3818
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jul 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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