Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a new treatment modality that uses porphyrin derivatives and visible light, especially for the treatment of cancer. However, PDT with certain photosensitisers can cause prolonged skin photosensitization. This is particularly true for Photofrin II (Photofrin)-mediated PDT where patients are required to avoid direct exposure to sunlight for a period of 4-6 weeks. This is the only long-term adverse reaction to the drug. Recent studies have shown that topical copper treatment avoids this type of inflammatory reaction. In this study, we have tested the efficiency of the liposomal formulation of copper palmitate on porphyrin-photosensitized rats. Initially, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were rendered photosensitive either by administration of Photofrin or aminolevulinic acid (ALA), a precursor of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX). Prior to this, their dorsal skin was shaved and treated topically with a cream consisting of either empty or copper palmitate-encapsulated liposomal formulation. After being kept in a dimmed light environment, the rats were exposed to visible light, and inflammatory responses were inspected. Histological studies revealed that no inflammatory cells were present at the skin sites treated with liposomal cream containing copper palmitate in the Photofrin-sensitized group while no reduction in the number of inflammatory cells was observed at the skin samples treated with the empty liposomes. In conclusion, the data demonstrate the significant protective effect of topically-applied liposome-encapsulated copper palmitate against both Photofrin and ALA-induced PpIX photosensitivity. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.