Apoptosis

, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp 1050–1071

Photodynamic therapy: illuminating the road from cell death towards anti-tumour immunity

Clearance of dead cells: mechanisms, immune responses and implication in the development of diseases
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Abstract

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) utilizes the destructive power of reactive oxygen species generated via visible light irradiation of a photosensitive dye accumulated in the cancerous tissue/cells, to bring about their obliteration. PDT activates multiple signalling pathways in cancer cells, which could give rise to all three cell death modalities (at least in vitro). Simultaneously, PDT is capable of eliciting various effects in the tumour microenvironment thereby affecting the tumour-associated/-infiltrating immune cells and by extension, leading to infiltration of various immune cells (e.g. neutrophils) into the treated site. PDT is also associated to the activation of different immune phenomena, e.g. acute-phase response, complement cascade and production of cytokines/chemokines. It has also come to light that, PDT is capable of activating ‘anti-tumour adaptive immunity’ in both pre-clinical as well as clinical settings. Although the ability of PDT to induce ‘anti-cancer vaccine effect’ is still debatable, yet it has been shown to be capable of inducing exposure/release of certain damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) like HSP70. Therefore, it seems that PDT is unique among other approved therapeutic procedures in generating a microenvironment suitable for development of systemic anti-tumour immunity. Apart from this, recent times have seen the emergence of certain promising modalities based on PDT like-photoimmunotherapy and PDT-based cancer vaccines. This review mainly discusses the effects exerted by PDT on cancer cells, immune cells as well as tumour microenvironment in terms of anti-tumour immunity. The ability of PDT to expose/release DAMPs and the future perspectives of this paradigm have also been discussed.

Keywords

Photodynamic therapy DAMPs Immunology Antitumour immunity Neutrophils Immunotherapy 

Abbreviations

AIF

Apoptosis-inducing factor

ALA

Amino levulinic acid

APCs

Antigen-presenting cells

APR

Acute-phase response

ATP

Adenosine triphosphate

CD

Cluster of differentiation

DAMP

Damage-associated molecular patterns

DC

Dendritic cell

ER

Endoplasmic reticulum

GRP

Glucose-regulated protein

HIF

Hypoxia-inducible factor

HMGB1

High-mobility group box-1

HSP

Heat shock protein

IFN

Interferon

IL

Interleukin

MAPK

Mitogen-activated protein kinase

MHC

Major histocompatibility complex

MMP

Mitochondrial membrane permeabilization

NK cells

Natural killer cells

NO

Nitric oxide

PDT

Photodynamic therapy

RIP1

Receptor interacting protein 1

ROS

Reactive oxygen species

TAA

Tumour-associated antigen(s)

TGF

Transforming growth factor

TLR

Toll-like receptor(s)

TNF

Tumour necrosis factor

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Faculty of MedicineCatholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Immunology, Center of Biostructure ResearchMedical University of WarsawWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Institute of Physical ChemistryPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland

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