Photodynamic therapy accelerates skin wound healing through promoting re-epithelialization

Zengjun Yang, Xiaohong Hu, Lina Zhou, Yaxiong He, Xiaorong Zhang, Jiacai Yang, Zhenyu Ju, Yih Cherng Liou, Han Ming Shen, Gaoxing Luo, Michael R. Hamblin, Weifeng He, Rui Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Epidermal stem cells (EpSCs) that reside in cutaneous hair follicles and the basal layer of the epidermis are indispensable for wound healing and skin homeostasis. Little is known about the effects of photochemical activation on EpSC differentiation, proliferation and migration during wound healing. The present study aimed to determine the effects of photodynamic therapy (PDT) on wound healing in vivo and in vitro. Methods: We created mouse full-thickness skin resection models and applied 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) for PDT to the wound beds. Wound healing was analysed by gross evaluation and haematoxylin-eosin staining in vivo. In cultured EpSCs, protein expression was measured using flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Cell migration was examined using a scratch model; apoptosis and differentiation were measured using flow cytometry. Results: PDT accelerated wound closure by enhancing EpSC differentiation, proliferation and migration, thereby promoting re-epithelialization and angiogenesis. PDT inhibited inflammatory infiltration and expression of proinflammatory cytokines, whereas the secretion of growth factors was greater than in other groups. The proportion of transient amplifying cells was significantly greater in vivo and in vitro in the PDT groups. EpSC migration was markedly enhanced after ALA-induced PDT. Conclusions: Topical ALA-induced PDT stimulates wound healing by enhancing re-epithelialization, promoting angiogenesis as well as modulating skin homeostasis. This work provides a preliminary theoretical foundation for the clinical administration of topical ALA-induced PDT in skin wound healing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbertkab008
JournalBurns and Trauma
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 5-aminolevulinic acid
  • Epidermal stem cells
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Re-epithelialization
  • Transient amplifying cells
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Dermatology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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