Photodynamic therapy for hypoxic tumors: Advances and perspectives

Li Huang, Shaojing Zhao, Jiasheng Wu, Le Yu, Nem Singh, Ke Yang, Minhuan Lan, Pengfei Wang, Jong Seung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been a preferred clinical technology for treating superficial tumors due to its advantages of high selectivity, non-invasiveness and negligible drug resistance. However, the hypoxic tumor microenvironment weakens the efficiency of O2-dependent PDT. Moreover, the PDT process consumes a large amount of O2 and destroys the tumor blood vessels and further blocks the O2 supply to tumor sites. Therefore, developing more advanced materials and methods for PDT of the hypoxic tumor is an essential scientific significance. This tutorial review summarizes the strategies for improving the efficacy of PDT in hypoxic tumor therapy, which is categorized into three sections: (I) enhancing O2 concentration in the tumor; (II) disregarding hypoxia; and (III) exploiting hypoxia. The advantages of combining PDT with other therapeutics, such as chemotherapy, chemo-dynamic therapy, gas therapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy, are also demonstrated. Finally, the existing challenges and future perspectives on clinical PDT for hypoxic tumors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213888
JournalCoordination Chemistry Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 61805287), Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province, China (2019JJ50824), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central South Universities (No. 2020CX021), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central South Universities (Nos. 2019zzts126, 2020zzts407). This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (CRI Project Nos. 2018R1A3B1052702 and 2019M3E5D1A01068998, J.S.K.)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Theranostic agents
  • Tumor hypoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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