A dosimetric system has been developed to measure the spatially resolved light dose absorbed by a photosensitizer in a tissue-simulating medium. These gelatin-based dosimeters had macroscopic optical scattering and absorption properties that are typical for homogeneous tissue and contained the photosensitizer benzoporphyrin derivative monoacid (BPD-MA). A reporter molecule, 2′7′-dichlorofluorescin diacetate (DCF-DA), served as an actinometer, which could be photosensitized by BPD-MA to generate a highly fluorescent photoproduct. The relative photosensitizing efficiencies of high-intensity pulsed and cw laser light were compared in these tissue-simulating dosimeters. These measurements demonstrate an increase in penetration for pulsed light as compared with cw light in the dosimeters. A numerical simulation of the light propagation based on optical diffusion theory was used along with the energy levels of the photosensitizer molecule to examine the mechanisms involved in the absorbed dose. The increased penetration of high-intensity pulsed light was due to a transient decrease in the absorption of the photosensitizer, resulting from saturation of the photosensitizer optical transitions. This study provides the first direct comparison of the photodynamic dose absorbed by a photosensitizer using both high-intensity pulsed and cw laser light in a tissue-simulating medium. These measurements demonstrate that a small increase in depth of treatment is possible with pulsed laser light as compared with cw laser light simply on the basis of the unique photochemistry of the photosensitizer. However, this effect still needs to be examined carefully in tumor tissue, where other biological or chemical effects may become significant.
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