Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with topical aminolevulinic acid (ALA) has been shown in previous studies to improve psoriasis. However, topical ALA-PDT may not be practical for the treatment of extensive disease. In order to overcome this limitation we have explored the potential use of oral ALA administration in psoriatic patients. Twelve patients with plaque psoriasis received a single oral ALA dose of 10, 20 or 30 mg/kg followed by measurement of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) fluorescence in the skin and circulating blood cells. Skin PpIX levels were determined over time after ALA administration by the quantification of the 635 nm PpIX emission peak with in vivo fluorescence spectroscopy under 442 nm laser excitation. Administration of ALA at 20 and 30 mg/kg induced preferential accumulation of PpIX in psoriatic as opposed to adjacent normal skin. Peak fluorescence intensity in psoriatic and normal skin occurred between 3 and 5 h after the administration of 20 and 30 mg/kg, respectively. Ratios of up to 10 for PpIX fluorescence between psoriatic versus normal skin were obtained at the 30 mg/kg dose of ALA. Visible PpIX fluorescence was also observed on normal facial skin, and nonspecific skin photosensitivity occurred only in patients who received the 20 or 30 mg/kg doses. PpIX fluorescence intensity was measured in circulating blood cells by flow cytometry. PpIX fluorescence was higher in monocytes and neutrophils as compared to CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes. PpIX levels in these cells were higher in patients who received higher ALA doses and peaked between 4 and 8 h after administration of ALA. There was only a modest increase in PpIX levels in circulating CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes. In conclusion oral administration of ALA induced preferential accumulation of PpIX in psoriatic plaques as compared to adjacent normal skin suggesting that PDT with oral ALA should be further explored for the treatment of psoriasis.
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Vol. 74 • No. 2