Liposome-encapsulated 0.5% 5-aminolevulinic acid with intense pulsed light for the treatment of inflammatory facial acne: a pilot study

Dermatol Surg. 2011 Apr;37(4):450-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2011.01929.x. Epub 2011 Mar 17.


Background: Liposome used in spray form to encapsulate and deliver 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) into the pilosebaceous unit lowers the concentration of 5-ALA to 0.5% in photodynamic therapy (PDT) for acne, with low post-treatment photosensitivity.

Objective: To investigate the clinical outcome and side effects of PDT using intense pulsed light (IPL) and 0.5% 5-ALA spray for inflammatory facial acne in Asian skin.

Methods: Twelve subjects (skin types IV-V) with facial acne received full-face treatment at 3-week intervals with IPL 1 hour after being sprayed with 5-ALA. Lesion counts were assessed using serial standardized photographs taken up to 6 months after treatment. Serial sebum measurement and subjective assessment was conducted.

Results: There were mean reductions in inflammatory lesions of 52% at 1 month (p=.02) and 65% at 6 months (p=.04) after treatment. Mean subjective acne score decreased from 6.6 to 4.5 (on a scale from 1 to 10) 1 month after treatment. Significant reduction in sebum production was noted only on the forehead. No significant side effects, including postinflammatory hyperpigmentation and phototoxicity, were observed.

Conclusion: Use of 0.5% liposome-encapsulated 5-ALA spray with IPL reduced inflammatory facial acne in Asians, with a low risk of persistent phototoxic effects after PDT in this pilot study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Liposomes
  • Male
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Liposomes
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Aminolevulinic Acid