Double dose of 5-aminolevulinic acid and its effect on protoporphyrin IX accumulation in low-grade glioma

J Neurosurg 137:943–952, 2022

Administration of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) does not regularly elicit fluorescence in low-grade glioma (LGG) at currently established doses and timing of administration. One explanation may be differences in blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity compared to high-grade glioma. The authors hypothesized that for a BBB semipermeable to 5-ALA there might be a relationship between plasma 5-ALA concentration and its movement into the brain. A higher dose would elicit more 5-ALA conversion into protoporphyrin IX (PPIX). The authors present a case series of patients harboring LGG who received higher doses of 5-ALA.

METHODS Patients undergoing surgery for indeterminate glioma later diagnosed as LGG were included in this study. 5-ALA was administered at a standard dose of 20 mg/kg body weight (bw) 4 hours prior to induction of anesthesia. A subgroup of patients received a higher dose of 40 mg/kg bw. Fluorescence was evaluated visually and PPIX concentration (cPPIX) was determined ex vivo by hyperspectral measurements in freshly extracted tissue. All adverse events were recorded.

RESULTS A total of 23 patients harboring diffuse low-grade astrocytomas (n = 19) and oligodendrogliomas (n = 4) were analyzed. Thirteen patients received 20 mg/kg bw, and 10 patients received 40 mg/kg bw of 5-ALA. In the 20 mg/ kg group, 30.8% (4 of 13) of tumors harbored areas of visible fluorescence, compared to 60% of cases (n = 6 of 10) with 40 mg/kg bw. The threshold to visibility was 1 μg/ml in both groups. Measured over all biopsies, the mean cPPIX was significantly higher in the double-dose group (1.8 vs 0.45 μg/ml; p < 0.001). In non–visibly fluorescent tissue the mean cPPIX was 0.146 μg/ml in the 20 mg/kg and 0.347 μg/ml in the 40 mg/kg group, indicating an increase of 138% (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS These observations demonstrate different regions with different levels of PPIX accumulation in LGG. With higher 5-ALA doses cPPIX increases, leading to more regions surpassing the visibility threshold of 1 μg/ml. These observations can be explained by the fact that the BBB in LGG is semipermeable to 5-ALA. Higher 5-ALA doses result in more PPIX conversion, an observation with implications for future dosing in LGG.