Targeted delivery of bleomycin to the brain using photo-chemical internalization of Clostridium perfringens epsilon prototoxin

Henry Hirschberg, Michelle J. Zhang, H. Michael Gach, Francisco A. Uzal, Qian Peng, Chung Ho Sun, David Chighvinadze, Steen J. Madsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Cells infiltrating into normal brain from malignant brain tumors are protected by the blood brain barrier (BBB) which prevents the delivery and limits the effects of anti-tumor agents. We have evaluated the ability of photochemical internalization (PCI) to limit the effects of an agent known to broadly open the BBB to a target region of the brain. The PCI-based relocation and activation of macromolecules into the cell cytosol has the advantage of minimal side effects since the effect is localized to the area exposed to light, allowing the access of chemotherapeutic agents only to these regions. Non tumor bearing inbred Fisher rats were treated with photosesitizer, and a nontoxic intraperitoneal dose of Clostridium perfringens epsilon prototoxin (ETXp) followed by light exposure. Post-contrast T1 MRI scans were used to monitor the degree BBB disruption. F98 tumor cells were implanted into the brains of other animals that were subsequently treated 24 h later with ETXp-PCI BBB opening followed by the i.p. administration of bleomycin (BLM). PCI delivery of ETXp at low fluence levels demonstrated significant MRI enhancement. No effect on the BBB was observed if photosesitizer and light was given in the absence ETXp. The survival of animals implanted with F98 tumor cells was significantly extended following ETXp-PCI BBB opening and BLM therapy compared to controls. PCI delivered ETXp was effective in opening the BBB in a limited region of the brain. ETXp-PCI mediated BBB opening clearly increased the efficacy of BLM therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-329
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Bleomycin
  • Blood brain barrier
  • Brain tumor
  • Clostridium perfringens prototoxin
  • PDT
  • Photochemical internalization
  • Targeted opening


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