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Fluorescence detection of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia for photodynamic therapy with the topical agents 5-aminolevulinic acid and benzoporphyrin-derivative monoacid ring



The aim of this study was to determine whether 2 photosensitizers, benzoporphyrin-derivative monoacid ring and 5-aminolevulinic acid, are selectively absorbed by dysplastic cervical cells after topical administration.

Study design

This phase I clinical trial involved 18 women with biopsy-proven cervical intraepithelial neoplasia at the Beckman Laser Institute, Irvine, Calif. Colposcopically directed cervical biopsy specimens obtained after 1.5, 3, or 6 hours of exposure to a randomly assigned photosensitizer were evaluated for selective drug absorption with hematoxylin and eosin staining and fluorescence microscopy.


After exposure to 5-aminolevulinic acid, cervical tissue showed maximal fluorescence in dysplastic cells relative to normal cells, with negligible stromal fluorescence. According to our detection methods benzoporphyrin-derivative monoacid ring demonstrated nonselective, diffusion-driven uptake, with fluorescence appearing in the superficial cells, followed by nonselective drug absorption in the remaining cells and stroma of the epithelium.


Our data demonstrated selective absorption of 5-aminolevulinic acid by dysplastic cervical cells. This agent therefore represents a promising photosensitizing prodrug for the treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia with photodynamic therapy.

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