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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 482160, 18 pages
Review Article

Immunogenic Cell Death: Can It Be Exploited in PhotoDynamic Therapy for Cancer?

Department of Biological and Environmental Science and Technology (Di.S.Te.B.A.), University of Salento, Via per Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy

Received 23 July 2012; Revised 18 September 2012; Accepted 1 October 2012

Academic Editor: Kristjan Plaetzer

Copyright © 2013 Elisa Panzarini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Immunogenic Cell Death (ICD) could represent the keystone in cancer management since tumor cell death induction is crucial as well as the control of cancer cells revival after neoplastic treatment. In this context, the immune system plays a fundamental role. The concept of Damage-Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMPs) has been proposed to explain the immunogenic potential of stressed or dying/dead cells. ICD relies on DAMPs released by or exposed on dying cells. Once released, DAMPs are sensed by immune cells, in particular Dendritic Cells (DCs), acting as activators of Antigen-Presenting Cells (APCs), that in turn stimulate both innate and adaptive immunity. On the other hand, by exposing DAMPs, dying cancer cells change their surface composition, recently indicated as vital for the stimulation of the host immune system and the control of residual ill cells. It is well established that PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT) for cancer treatment ignites the immune system to elicit a specific antitumor immunity, probably linked to its ability in inducing exposure/release of certain DAMPs, as recently suggested. In the present paper, we discuss the DAMPs associated with PDT and their role in the crossroad between cancer cell death and immunogenicity in PDT.