Background: Recently, 5-aminolevulinic acid-based photodynamic therapy (ALA-PDT) is being widely used in cancer therapy owing to the tumor-specific accumulation of photosensitizing protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) after the administration of ALA. In the present study, by focusing on genes involved in the porphyrin biosynthesis pathway, we aimed to explore biomarkers that are predictive for the efficacy of ALA-PDT.
Methods: We used five lines of human gastric cancer cells to measure the ALA-based photocytotoxicity. ALA-induced production of PpIX in cancer cells was quantified by fluorescence spectrophotometry. To examine the potential involvement of PEPT1 and ABCG2 in the ALA-PDT sensitivity, stable cell lines overexpressing PEPT1 were established and ABCG2-specific siRNA used.
Results: We observed that three cell lines were photosensitive, whereas the other two cell lines were resistant to ALA-based photocytotoxicity. The ALA-based photocytotoxicity was found to be well correlated with intracellular PpIX levels, which suggests that certain enzymes and/or transporters involved in ALA-induced PpIX production are critical determinants. We found that high expression of the peptide transporter PEPT1 (ALA influx transporter) and low expression of the ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCG2 (porphyrin efflux transporter) determined ALA-induced PpIX production and cellular photosensitivity in vitro.
Conclusion: PEPT1 and ABCG2 are key players in regulating intracellular PpIX levels and determining the efficacy of ALA-based photocytotoxicity against gastric cancer cells in vitro. Evaluation of the expression levels of PEPT1 and ABCG2 genes could be useful to predict the efficacy of ALA-PDT. Primers specific to those target genes are practical and useful biomarkers for predicting the photo-sensitivity to ALA-PDT.
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