Theranostics 2012; 2(9):827-839. doi:10.7150/thno.4334

Research Paper

Image-Based Quantification of Benzoporphyrin Derivative Uptake, Localization, and Photobleaching in 3D Tumor Models, for Optimization of PDT Parameters

Michael D. Glidden1,2, Jonathan P. Celli1,2, Iqbal Massodi1, Imran Rizvi1, Brian W. Pogue3, Tayyaba Hasan1✉

1. Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA;
2. Department of Physics, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125, USA;
3. Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a light-based treatment modality in which wavelength specific activation of a photosensitizer (PS) generates cytotoxic response in the irradiated region. PDT response is critically dependent on several parameters including light dose, PS dose, uptake time, fluence rate, and the mode of light delivery. While the systematic optimization of these treatment parameters can be complex, it also provides multiple avenues for enhancement of PDT efficacy under diverse treatment conditions, provided that a rational framework is established to quantify the impact of parameter selection upon treatment response. Here we present a theranostic technique, combining the inherent ability of the PS to serve simultaneously as a therapeutic and imaging agent, with the use of image-based treatment assessment in three dimensional (3D) in vitro tumor models, to comprise a platform to evaluate the impact of PDT parameters on treatment outcomes. We use this approach to visualize and quantify the uptake, localization, and photobleaching of the PS benzoporphyrin derivative monoacid ring-A (BPD) in a range of treatment conditions with varying uptake times as well as continuous and fractionated light delivery regimens in 3D cultures of AsPC-1 and PANC-1 cells. Informed by photobleaching patterns and correlation with cytotoxic response, asymmetric fractionated light delivery at 4 hours BPD uptake was found to be the most effective regimen assessed. Quantification of the spatial profile of cell killing within multicellular nodules revealed that these conditions also achieve the highest depth of cytotoxicity along the radial axis of 3D nodules. The framework introduced here provides a means for systematic assessment of PDT treatment parameters in biologically relevant 3D tumor models with potential for broader application to other systems.

Keywords: Photodynamic therapy, PDT, photosensitizer imaging, fractionation, verteporfin, BPD, in vitro 3D tumor model.

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How to cite this article:
Glidden MD, Celli JP, Massodi I, Rizvi I, Pogue BW, Hasan T. Image-Based Quantification of Benzoporphyrin Derivative Uptake, Localization, and Photobleaching in 3D Tumor Models, for Optimization of PDT Parameters. Theranostics 2012; 2(9):827-839. doi:10.7150/thno.4334. Available from