Topical Photodynamic Therapy Generates Bioactive Microvesicle Particles: Evidence for a Pathway Involved in Immunosuppressive Effects

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Although effective in treating actinic damage, topical photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been shown to be immunosuppressive through unknown mechanisms, which could potentially limit its effectiveness. Multiple types of environmental stressors, including PDT, can produce the immunosuppressive lipid mediator platelet-activating factor (PAF). Because PAF can produce subcellular microvesicle particles (MVPs), these studies tested whether PDT can generate PAF and MVP release and whether these are involved in PDT-induced immunosuppression. Previously, topical PDT using blue light and 5-aminolevulinic acid was found to be a potent stimulus for PAF production in mice and human skin explants and human patients, and we show that experimental PDT also generates high levels of MVP. PDT-generated MVPs were independent of the PAF receptor but were dependent on the MVP-generating enzyme acid sphingomyelinase. Patients undergoing topical PDT treatment to at least 10% of body surface area showed local and systemic immunosuppression as measured by inhibition of delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions. Finally, using a murine model of contact hypersensitivity, PDT immunosuppression was blocked by genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of acid sphingomyelinase and genetic inhibition of PAF receptor signaling. These studies describe a mechanism involving MVP through which PDT exerts immunomodulatory effects, providing a potential target to improve its effectiveness.





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