In vivo photodynamic activity of photosensitizer-loaded nanoparticles: formulation properties, administration parameters and biological issues involved in PDT outcome

Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2008 May;69(1):43-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2007.09.021. Epub 2007 Oct 12.


Encapsulation of hydrophobic photosensitizers (PS) into polymeric nanoparticles (NP) has proven to be an effective alternative to organic solvents for their formulation. As NP size controls NP passage through endothelial barriers, it is a key parameter for achieving passive targeting of cancer tissues and choroidal neovascularization, secondary to age-related macular degeneration, the main applications of photodynamic therapy. In the present study, a hydrophobic PS, the meso-tetra(p-hydroxyphenyl)porphyrin, was encapsulated into biodegradable NP made of poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) 50:50 via an emulsification-diffusion technique. NP batches having mean diameters of 117, 285, and 593 nm were obtained with narrow size distribution. Using the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of the developing chick embryo, it was demonstrated that the increase in the NP size decreased photodynamic activity in vivo. The activity of PS-loaded NP was not influenced by the volume of injection and was kept intact at least 6h after NP reconstitution. Investigation of NP circulation after IV administration by fluorescence measurements revealed that 117 nm NP reached Tmax earlier than larger NP. Confocal imaging of CAM vessels demonstrated PS uptake by endothelial cells after NP administration. It was concluded that NP size controls the photodynamic activity of the encapsulated PS.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical / methods
  • Chickens
  • Chorioallantoic Membrane / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Photochemotherapy / instrumentation*
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / chemistry*
  • Rhodamines / chemistry
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Rhodamines