Photodynamic therapy: a 5-year study of its effectiveness in the treatment of posterior uveal melanoma, and evaluation of haematoporphyrin uptake and photocytotoxicity of melanoma cells in tissue culture

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A human melanoma cell line RVH-421 which selectively demonstrates melanin synthesis when cultured in L15 Leibowitz medium but not in RPMI medium was used as a model to examine haematoporphyrin derivative (HPD) uptake and the photocytotoxicity of photodynamic therapy (PDT). Confocal scanning microscopy and extraction fluorimetry showed HPD uptake in both non-pigmented and pigmented melanoma cells. Phototoxicity was determined by incubating pigmented and non-pigmented monolayer cells with HPD, exposing them to variable periods of white fluorescent light and calculating the number of viable cells in the samples relative to the controls. Both the non-pigmented and pigmented melanoma cells were affected by light-dependent cytotoxicity which was greater in the non-pigmented cells. Melanin or other substances may reduce the photo-oxidative effects of PDT. Posterior uveal melanomas in 36 patients were treated with PDT with the longest duration of tumour control being 6.5 years. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that 76% of melanomas were not growing at the end of the first year, declining to 62% at the end of the second year, with 38% showing no signs of growth at the end of the fifth year. No eyes were lost as a result of PDT. Cox's hazards analysis showed that the degree of tumour pigmentation and patient age at therapy significantly influence the tumour response to PDT.

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