Theranostics 2022; 12(10):4629-4655. doi:10.7150/thno.72465 This issue


How to improve photodynamic therapy-induced antitumor immunity for cancer treatment?

Min Zhang1,2,#, Yifan Zhao1,#, He Ma2, Yusong Sun1, Jie Cao1,✉

1. Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266021, China
2. Institute of Biomedical Materials and Engineering, College of Materials Sciences and Engineering, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266071, China
# These authors contributed equally to this review

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Zhang M, Zhao Y, Ma H, Sun Y, Cao J. How to improve photodynamic therapy-induced antitumor immunity for cancer treatment?. Theranostics 2022; 12(10):4629-4655. doi:10.7150/thno.72465. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising method of tumor ablation and function-preserving oncological intervention, which is minimally invasive, repeatable, and has excellent function and cosmetic effect, with no cumulative toxicity. More importantly, PDT can induce immunogenic cell death and local inflammation, thus stimulating the body's immune response. However, the weak immunity induced by PDT alone is insufficient to trigger a systemic immune response towards cancer cells. To overcome this obstacle, multiple strategies have been investigated, including tumor microenvironment remodeling, tumor vaccines, subcellular-targeted PDT, and synergistic therapies. This review summarizes the latest progress in the development of strategies to improve the PDT-induced immune effect for enhanced cancer treatment.

Keywords: Photodynamic therapy, Antitumor immunity, Tumor microenvironment, Tumor vaccine, Synergistic therapies