Photodynamic Diagnosis of Ovarian Ca

Experimental Therapeutics

Photodynamic diagnosis of ovarian cancer using hexaminolaevulinate: a preclinical study

F Lüdicke1, T Gabrecht2, N Lange2, G Wagnières2, H van den Bergh2, L Berclaz1 and A L Major1,3

1Fondation pour Recherches Médicales, University of Geneva, 64 Avenue de la Roseraie, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland

2Institute of Environmental Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) Lausanne, Switzerland

3Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Geneva, Switzerland

Correspondence to: F Lüdicke, E-mail:


The unfailing detection of micrometastases during surgery of patients suffering from ovarian cancer is mandatory for the optimal management of this disease.

Thus, the present study aimed at determining the feasibility of detecting micrometastases in an ovarian cancer model using the intraperitoneal administration of the photosensitiser precursor hexaminolaevulinate (HAL).

For this purpose, HAL was applied intraperitoneally at different concentrations (4-12 mM) to immunocompetent Fischer 344 rats bearing a syngeneic epithelial ovarian carcinoma. The tumours were visualised laparoscopically using both white and blue light (D-light, Karl Storz, Tuttlingen, Germany), and the number of peritoneal micrometastases detected through HAL-induced photodiagnosis (PD) was compared to standard white light visualisation.

Fluorescence spectra were recorded with an optical fibre-based spectrofluorometer and the fluorescence intensities were compared to the protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) fluorescence induced by 5-aminolevulinic acid under similar conditions.

The number of metastases detected by the PD blue light mode was higher than when using standard white light abdominal inspection for all applied concentrations. Twice as many cancer lesions were detected by fluorescence than by white light inspection. The hexyl-ester derivative produced higher PpIX fluorescence than its parent substance aminolevulinic acid at the same concentration and application time.

Fluorescence contrast between healthy and cancerous tissue was excellent for both compounds. To overcome poor diagnostic efficiency and to detect peritoneal ovarian carcinoma foci in the large surface area of the human peritoneal cavity, HAL fluorescence-based visualisation techniques may acquire importance in future and lead to a more correct staging of early ovarian cancer.

British Journal of Cancer (2003) 88, 1780-1784.

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