Photodynamic therapy of tumors requires the topical, systemic or oral administration of a photosensitizing compound, illumination of the tumor area by light of a specific wavelength and the presence of oxygen. Light activation of the photosensitizer transfers energy to molecular oxygen creating singlet oxygen, a highly reactive and toxic species that rapidly reacts with cellular components causing oxidative damage, ultimately leading to cell death. Tumor destruction caused by photodynamic therapy is not only a result of direct tumor cell toxicity via the generation of reactive oxygen species but there is also an immunological and vascular component involved. The immune response to photodynamic therapy has been demonstrated to significantly enhance its efficacy. Depending on a number of factors, including type of photosensitizer, light dose and dose rate, photodynamic therapy has been shown to induce cell death via apoptosis, necrosis, autophagy and in particular immunogenic cell death. It is the purpose of this review to focus mainly on the role photodynamic therapy could play in the generation of specific anti-tumor immunity and vaccines for the treatment of brain tumors.
Keywords: Photodynamic therapy; anti-brain cancer vaccine; photochemical internalization; photodynamic therapy induced cell death.