Pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo studies to examine the potential use of photodynamic therapy in the treatment of osteomyelitis

Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006 Jan;5(1):31-8. doi: 10.1039/b507082a. Epub 2005 Nov 8.


Osteomyelitis can lead to severe morbidity and even death resulting from an acute or chronic inflammation of the bone and contiguous structures due to fungal or bacterial infection. Incidence approximates 1 in 1000 neonates and 1 in 5000 children in the United States annually and increases up to 0.36% and 16% in adults with diabetes or sickle cell anaemia, respectively. Current regimens of treatment include antibiotics and/or surgery. However, the increasing number of antibiotic resistant pathogens suggests that alternate strategies are required. We are investigating photodynamic therapy (PDT) as one such alternate treatment for osteomyelitis using a bioluminescent strain of biofilm-producing staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) grown onto kirschner wires (K-wire). S. aureus-coated K-wires were exposed to methylene blue (MB) or 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA)-mediated PDT either in vitro or following implant into the tibial medullary cavity of Sprague-Dawley rats. The progression of S. aureus biofilm was monitored non-invasively using bioluminescence and expressed as a percentage of the signal for each sample immediately prior to treatment. S. aureus infections were subject to PDT 10 days post inoculation. Treatment comprised administration of ALA (300 mg kg(-1)) intraperitoneally followed 4 h later by light (635 +/- 10 nm; 75 J cm(-2)) delivered transcutaneously via an optical fiber placed onto the tibia and resulted in significant delay in bacterial growth. In vitro, MB and ALA displayed similar cell kill with > or =4 log(10) cell kill. In vivo, ALA-mediated PDT inhibited biofilm implants in bone. These results confirm that MB or ALA-mediated PDT have potential to treat S. aureus cultures grown in vitro or in vivo using an animal model of osteomyelitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminolevulinic Acid / radiation effects
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Implants, Experimental / microbiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Light*
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Methylene Blue / chemistry
  • Osteomyelitis / drug therapy*
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / radiation effects
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / radiation effects


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Aminolevulinic Acid
  • Methylene Blue