In order to improve the efficacy of 5-aminolevulinic acid-based (ALA) photodynamic therapy (PDT), different ALA derivatives are presently being investigated. ALA esters are more lipophilic and therefore may have better skin penetration properties than ALA, possibly resulting in enhanced protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) production. In previous studies it was shown that ALA pentyl ester (ALAPE) does considerably enhance the PpIX production in cells in vitro compared with ALA. We investigated the in vivo PpIX fluorescence kinetics after application of ALA and ALAPE to hairless mice with and without UVB-induced early skin cancer. ALA and ALAPE (20% wt/wt) were applied topically to the mouse skin and after 30 min, the solvent was wiped off and PpIX fluorescence was followed in time with in vivo fluorescence spectroscopy and imaging. At 6 and 12 h after the 30 min application, skin samples of visible lesions and adjacent altered skin (UVB-exposed mouse skin) and normal mouse skin were collected for fluorescence microscopy. From each sample, frozen sections were made and phase contrast images and fluorescence images were recorded. The in vivo fluorescence kinetics showed that ALAPE induced more PpIX in visible lesions and altered skin of the UVB-exposed mouse skin, but not in the normal mouse skin. In the microscopic fluorescence images, higher ALAPE-induced PpIX levels were measured in the stratum corneum, but not in the dysplastic layer of the epidermis. In deeper layers of the skin, PpIX levels were the same after ALA and ALAPE application. In conclusion, ALAPE does induce higher PpIX fluorescence levels in vivo in our early skin cancer model, but these higher PpIX levels are not located in the dysplastic layer of the epidermis.
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Vol. 72 • No. 3