Aminolevulinic acid-mediated photodynamic therapy of human meningioma: an in vitro study on primary cell lines

Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Apr 30;16(5):9936-48. doi: 10.3390/ijms16059936.


Objective: Five-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)-induced porphyrins in malignant gliomas are potent photosensitizers. Promising results of ALA-PDT (photodynamic therapy) in recurrent glioblastomas have been published. Recently, 5-ALA-induced fluorescence was studied in meningioma surgery. Here, we present an experimental study of ALA-PDT in an in vitro model of primary meningioma cell lines.

Methods: We processed native tumor material obtained intra-operatively within 24 h for cell culture. Epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) immunohistochemistry was performed after the first passage to confirm that cells were meningioma cells. For 5-ALA-PDT treatment, about 5000 cells per well were seeded in 20 wells of a blank 96-well plate. Each block of 4 wells was inoculated with 150 µL of 0, 25, 50 and 100 µg/mL 5-ALA solutions; one block was used as negative control without 5-ALA and without PDT. Following incubation for 3 h PDT was performed using a laser (635 nm, 18.75 J/cm²). The therapeutic response was analyzed by the water soluble tetrazolium salt (WST-1) cell viability assay 90 min after PDT.

Results: 5-ALA-PDT was performed in 14 primary meningioma cell lines. EMA expression was verified in 10 primary cell cultures. The remaining 4 were EMA negative and PDT was without any effect in these cultures. All 10 EMA-positive cell lines showed a significant and dose-dependent decrease in viability rate (p < 0.001). Cell survival at 5-ALA concentrations of 12.5, 25, 50 and 100 μg/mL was 96.5% ± 7.6%, 67.9% ± 29.9%, 24.0% ± 16.7% and 13.8% ± 7.5%, respectively. For the negative controls (no 5-ALA/PDT and ALA/no PDT), the viability rates were 101.72% ± 3.5% and 100.17% ± 3.6%, respectively. The LD50 for 5-ALA was estimated between 25 and 50 µg/mL.

Conclusion: This study reveals dose-dependent cytotoxic effects of 5-ALA-PDT on primary cell lines of meningiomas. Either 5-ALA or PDT alone did not affect cell survival. Further efforts are necessary to study the potential therapeutic effects of 5-ALA-PDT in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / pharmacology
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Meningioma / drug therapy*
  • Meningioma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucin-1 / metabolism
  • Photochemotherapy*


  • Mucin-1
  • Aminolevulinic Acid