The role of porphyrinoid photosensitizers for skin wound healing

Mariana C. S. Vallejo, Nuno M.M. Moura*, Ana T. P. C. Gomes, Ana S. M. Joaquinito, Maria Amparo F. Faustino, Adelaide Almeida, Idalina Gonçalves, Vanda Vaz Serra, Maria Graça P. M. S. Neves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Microorganisms, usually bacteria and fungi, grow and spread in skin wounds, causing infections. These infections trigger the immune system and cause inflammation and tissue damage within the skin or wound, slowing down the healing process. The use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) to eradicate microorganisms has been regarded as a promising alternative to anti-infective therapies, such as those based on antibiotics, and more recently, is being considered for skin wound-healing, namely for infected wounds. Among the several molecules exploited as photosensitizers (PS), porphyrinoids exhibit suitable features for achieving those goals efficiently. The capability that these macrocycles display to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) gives a significant contribution to the regenerative process. ROS are responsible for avoiding the development of infections by inactivating microorganisms such as bacteria but also by promoting cell proliferation through the activation of stem cells which regulates inflammatory factors and collagen remodeling. The PS can act solo or combined with several materials, such as polymers, hydrogels, nanotubes, or metal-organic frameworks (MOF), keeping both the microbial photoinactivation and healing/regenerative processes’ effectiveness. This review highlights the developments on the combination of PDT approach and skin wound healing using natural and synthetic porphyrinoids, such as porphyrins, chlorins and phthalocyanines, as PS, as well as the prodrug 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA), the natural precursor of protoporphyrin-IX (PP-IX).
Original languageEnglish
Article number4121
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • ALA
  • Chlorins
  • Photodynamic inactivation
  • Photosensitizer
  • Phthalo-cyanines
  • Porphyrins
  • Protoporphyrin-IX
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Skin
  • Tissue regeneration
  • Wound healing


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