Photodynamic therapy - mechanisms, photosensitizers and combinations

Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Oct;106:1098-1107. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.07.049. Epub 2018 Jul 17.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a modern and non-invasive form of therapy, used in the treatment of non-oncological diseases as well as cancers of various types and locations. It is based on the local or systemic application of a photosensitive compound - the photosensitizer, which is accumulated in pathological tissues. The photosensitizer molecules absorb the light of the appropriate wavelength, initiating the activation processes leading to the selective destruction of the inappropriate cells. The photocytotoxic reactions occur only within the pathological tissues, in the area of photosensitizer distribution, enabling selective destruction. Over the last decade, a significant acceleration in the development of nanotechnology has been observed. The combination of photosensitizers with nanomaterials can improve the photodynamic therapy efficiency and eliminate its side effects as well. The use of nanoparticles enables achievement a targeted method which is focused on specific receptors, and, as a result, increases the selectivity of the photodynamic therapy. The object of this review is the anticancer application of PDT, its advantages and possible modifications to potentiate its effects.

Keywords: Anticancer therapy; PDT modification; Photodynamic therapy; Photosensitizers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Electrochemotherapy
  • Humans
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoparticles
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Photochemotherapy / adverse effects
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / adverse effects


  • Drug Carriers
  • Photosensitizing Agents