Targeted photodynamic therapy of established soft-tissue infections in mice

Faten Gad, Touqir Zahra, Kevin P. Francis, Tayyaba Hasan, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


The worldwide rise in antibiotic resistance necessitates the development of novel antimicrobial strategies. Although many workers have used photodynamic therapy (PDT) to kill bacteria in vitro, the use of this approach has seldom been reported in vivo in animal models of infection. We have previously described the first use of PDT to treat excisional wound infections by Gram-(−) bacteria in living mice. However, these infected wound models involved a short timespan between infection (30 min) and treatment by PDT. We now report on the use of PDT to treat an established soft-tissue infection in mice. We used Staphylococcus aureus stably transformed with a Photorhabdus luminescenslux operon (luxABCDE) that was genetically modified to be functional in Gram-(+) bacteria. These engineered bacteria emitted bioluminescence, allowing the progress of the infection to be monitored in both space and time with a low light imaging charge-coupled device (CCD) camera. One million cells were injected into one or both thigh muscles of mice that had previously been rendered neutropenic by cyclophosphamide administration. Twenty-four hours later, the bacteria had multiplied more than one hundredfold; poly-L-lysine chlorin e6 conjugate or free chlorin e6 was injected into one area of infected muscle and imaged with the CCD camera. Thirty minutes later, red light from a diode laser was delivered as a surface spot or by interstitial fiber into the infection. There was a light dose dependent loss of bioluminescence (to <5% of that seen in control infections) not seen in untreated infections or those treated with light alone, but in some cases, the infection recurred. Treatment with conjugate alone led to a lesser reduction in bioluminescence. Infections treated with free chlorin e6 responded less well and the infection subsequently increased over the succeeding days, probably due to PDT-mediated tissue damage. PDT-treated infected legs healed better than legs with untreated infections. This data shows that PDT may have applications in drug-resistant soft-tissue infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-458
Number of pages8
JournalPhotochemical and Photobiological Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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