Photodynamic therapy for cancer: Role of natural products

Behzad Mansoori, Ali Mohammadi, Mohammad Amin Doustvandi, Fatemeh Mohammadnejad, Farzin Kamari, Morten F. Gjerstorff, Behzad Baradaran, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


Photodynamic therapy (PDT)is a promising modality for the treatment of cancer. PDT involves administering a photosensitizing dye, i.e. photosensitizer, that selectively accumulates in tumors, and shining a light source on the lesion with a wavelength matching the absorption spectrum of the photosensitizer, that exerts a cytotoxic effect after excitation. The reactive oxygen species produced during PDT are responsible for the oxidation of biomolecules, which in turn cause cell death and the necrosis of malignant tissue. PDT is a multi-factorial process that generally involves apoptotic death of the tumor cells, degeneration of the tumor vasculature, stimulation of anti-tumor immune response, and induction of inflammatory reactions in the illuminated lesion. Numerous compounds with photosensitizing activity have been introduced commercially. Although many papers have been published with regard to PDT in the last decade, there has been relatively little focus on natural medicinal plant extracts and compounds derived therefrom. Herbal plants and their extracts are natural substances, and in comparison with synthetic chemicals are considered “green”. This review focuses on the different mechanisms of PDT and discusses the role of various plant extracts and natural compounds either alone or in combination for carrying out PDT on different types of cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-404
Number of pages10
JournalPhotodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Herbal medicine
  • Natural products
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photosensitizers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Oncology
  • Dermatology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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