Photodynamic therapy (PDT) employing methyl δ-aminolevulinic acid (Me-ALA), as a precursor of the photosensitizer protoporphyrin IX (PpIX), is used for the treatment of non melanoma cutaneous cancer (NMCC). However, one of the problems of PDT is the apparition of resistant cell populations. The aim of this study was to isolate and characterize squamous carcinoma cells SCC-13 resistant to PDT with Me-ALA. The SCC-13 parental population was submitted to successive cycles of Me-ALA-PDT and 10 resistant populations were finally obtained. In parental and resistant cells there were analyzed the cell morphology (toluidine blue), the intracellular PpIX content (flow cytometry) and its localization (fluorescence microscopy), the capacity of closing wounds (scratch wound assay), the expression of cell-cell adhesion proteins (E-cadherin and β-catenin), cell-substrate adhesion proteins (β1-integrin, vinculin and phospho-FAK), cytoskeleton proteins (α-tubulin and F-actin) and the inhibitor of apoptosis protein survivin, in the activated form as phospho-survivin (indirect immunofluorescence and Western blot). The results obtained indicate that resistant cells showed a more fibroblastic morphology, few differences in intracellular content of the photosensitizer, higher capacity of closing wounds, higher number of stress fibers, more expression of cell-substrate adhesion proteins and higher expression of phospho-survivin than parental cells. These distinctive features of the resistant cells can provide decisive information to enhance the efficacy of Me-ALA applications in clinic dermatology. J. Cell. Biochem. 112: 2266–2278, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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