Photodynamic Antifungal Chemotherapy


  • This paper is part of the Symposium-in-Print on “Antimicrobial Photodynamic Therapy and Photoinactivation.”

Corresponding author emails:; (Marina Venturini)


The growing resistance against antifungal drugs has renewed the search for alternative treatment modalities, and antimicrobial photodynamic therapy (PDT) seems to be a potential candidate. Preliminary findings have demonstrated that dermatophytes and yeasts can be effectively sensitized in vitro and in vivo by administering photosensitizers (PSs) belonging to four chemical groups: phenothiazine dyes, porphyrins and phthalocyanines, as well as aminolevulinic acid, which, while not a PS in itself, is effectively metabolized into protoporphyrin IX. Besides efficacy, PDT has shown other benefits. First, the sensitizers used are highly selective, i.e., fungi can be killed at combinations of drug and light doses much lower than that needed for a similar effect on keratinocytes. Second, all investigated PSs lack genotoxic and mutagenic activity. Finally, the hazard of selection of drug resistant fungal strains has been rarely reported. We review the studies published to date on antifungal applications of PDT, with special focus on yeast, and aim to raise awareness of this area of research, which has the potential to make a significant impact in future treatment of fungal infections.