Activating photodynamic therapy in vitro with Cerenkov radiation generated from yttrium-90

Brad A. Hartl, Henry Hirschberg, Laura Marcu, Simon R Cherry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The translation of photodynamic therapy (PDT) to the clinical setting has primarily been limited to easily accessible and/or superficial diseases, for which traditional light delivery can be performed noninvasively. Cerenkov radiation, as generated from medically relevant radionuclides, has been suggested as a means to deliver light to deeper tissues noninvasively to overcome this depth limitation. This article investigates the utility of Cerenkov radiation, as generated from the radionuclide yttrium-90, for activating the PDT process using clinically approved aminolevulinic acid at 1.0 mm and also the more efficient porphyrin-based photosensitizer mesotetraphenylporphine with two sulfonate groups on adjacent phenyl rings (TPPS2a) at 1.2 μm. Experiments were conducted with monolayer cultured glioma and breast tumor cell lines. Although aminolevulinic acid proved to be ineffective for generating a therapeutic effect at all but the highest activity levels, TPPS2a produced at least a 20% therapeutic effect at activities ranging from 6 to 60 μCi/well for the C6 glioma cell line. Importantly, these results demonstrate for the first time, to our knowledge, that Cerenkov radiation generated from a radionuclide can be used to activate PDT using clinically relevant photosensitizers. These results therefore provide evidence that it may be possible to generate a phototherapeutic effect in vivo using Cerenkov radiation and clinically relevant photosensitizers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-192
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Cerenkov radiation
  • Photodynamic therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medicine(all)
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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