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Intralesional photodynamic therapy induces apoptosis in basal cell carcinoma and Bowen’s disease through caspase 3 and granzyme B

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2023 Mar 16. doi: 10.1111/jdv.19050. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is used to treat cutaneous cancers. It may induce cell death through direct and indirect means, including apoptosis, inflammation, and certain immune mechanisms, with the depth of penetration as a potential modifying factor.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the pathways of apoptosis in the intralesional PDT of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and intraepidermal squamous cell carcinoma (Bowen’s disease).

METHODS: Sixteen patients with superficial or nodular BCC and Bowen’s disease were treated with intralesional aminolevulinic acid-PDT. Biopsies were taken at baseline and 24 h post-PDT and sections were examined by immunohistochemistry for expression of markers of apoptosis. such as caspase 3, involved in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway, granzyme B, a caspase-independent apoptotic mediator, and the proapoptotic markers BAX and BAK RESULTS: Apoptotic cells stained with TUNEL showed statistically significant staining at 24 h post PDT (p<0,01 in both BCC and Bowen’s lesions). Caspase 3 (p<0.01 in BCC and p<0.05 in Bowen’s) and granzyme B (p<0.01 in BCC and p<0.01 in Bowen’s) were significantly increased at 24 h post-PDT. BAX expression was apparently raised compared to baseline in Bowen’s lesions at 24 h post-PDT, whereas Bak was upregulated both in BCC and Bowen’s disease at baseline and at 24 h post-PDT.

CONCLUSION: Intralesional PDT induces apoptosis in BCC and Bowen’s disease via common and alternative apoptotic pathways involving granzyme B. Proapoptotic factors Bak in both BCC and Bowen and Bax in Bowen’s disease appear to increase by intralesional PDT at 24 hours.

PMID:36924124 | DOI:10.1111/jdv.19050

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