MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate key biological processes, and their aberrant expression has been related to cancer development. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has emerged as one of the most promising modalities for cancer treatment. However, the application of PDT has been limited to superficially localized human cancerous and precancerous lesions. To increase the usefulness of both PDT and miRNAs in cancer therapy, this study investigated whether apoptosis-related miRNA expression is influenced by PDT in oral cancer and whether miRNAs can enhance PDT efficacy. To achieve this goal, we performed a miRNA array-based comparison of apoptosis-related miRNA expression patterns following PDT using pheophorbide a (Pa) as a photosensitizer. After Pa-PDT, 13.1% of the miRNAs were down-regulated, and 16.7% of the miRNAs were up-regulated. Representative miRNAs were selected according to expression difference: miR-9-5p, miR-32-5p, miR-143-3p, miR-145-5p, miR-192-5p, miR-193a-5p, miR-204-5p, miR-212-3p, miR-338-3p, and miR-451a. Among them, only miR-145-5p showed the consistent reduction repeatedly in all cell lines after Pa-PDT. Further, the combined treatment of a miR-145-5p mimic and Pa-PDT increased phototoxicity, reactive oxygen species generation, and apoptotic cell death, suggesting that miRNAs expression could be a useful marker for enhancing the therapeutic effect of Pa-PDT. This study will provide a promising strategy for introducing miRNA as cancer therapy.
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