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Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology

Impact factor: 1.246

ISSN Print: 0731-8898
ISSN Online: 2162-6537

Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology

DOI: 10.1615/JEnvironPatholToxicolOncol.v25.i1-2.20
pages 7-28

Biophysical Aspects of Photodynamic Therapy

Asta Juzeniene
Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Medical Center, Montebello, Oslo, Norway
Kristian Pagh Nielsen
Department of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
Johan Moan
Department of Radiation Biophysics, Institute for Cancer Research, Rikshospital-Radiumhospital HF and Plasma/Room Physics, University of Oslo; lnstitute of Physics, University of Oslo, Blindern, Oslo, Norway


Over the last three decades photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been developed to a useful clinical tool, a viable alternative in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Several disciplines have contributed to this development: chemistry in the development of new photosensitizing agents, biology in the elucidation of cellular processes involved in PDT, pharmacology and physiology in identifying the mechanisms of distribution of photosensitizers in an organism, and, last but not least, physics in the development of better light sources, dosimetric concepts and construction of imaging devices, optical sensors and spectroscopic methods for determining sensitizer concentrations in different tissues. Physics and biophysics have also helped to focus on the role of pH for sensitizer accumulation, dose rate effects, oxygen depletion, temperature, and optical penetration of light of different wavelengths into various types of tissue. These are all important parameters for optimally effective PDT. The present review will give a brief, physically based, overview of PDT and then discuss some of the main biophysical aspects of this therapeutic modality.