Protoporphyrin IX in serum of high-grade glioma patients: a novel target for disease monitoring via liquid biopsy

Anna Walke*, Christopher Krone, Walter Stummer, Simone König, Eric Suero Molina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Downloads (Pure)


High-grade gliomas (HGG) carry a dismal prognosis. Diagnosis comprises MRI followed by histopathological evaluation of tissue; no blood biomarker is available. Patients are subjected to serial MRIs and, if unclear, surgery for monitoring of tumor recurrence, which is laborious. MRI provides only limited diagnostic information regarding the differentiation of true tumor progression from therapy-associated side effects. 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) is routinely used for induction of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) accumulation in malignant glioma tissue, enabling improved tumor visualization during fluorescence-guided resection (FGR). We investigated whether PpIX can also serve as a serum HGG marker to monitor relapse. Patients (HGG: n = 23 primary, pHGG; n = 5 recurrent, rHGG) undergoing FGR received 5-ALA following standard clinical procedure. The control group of eight healthy volunteers (HCTR) also received 5-ALA. Serum was collected before and repeatedly up to 72 h after drug administration. Significant PpIX accumulation in HGG was observed after 5-ALA administration (ANOVA: p = 0.005, post-hoc: HCTR vs. pHGG p = 0.029, HCTR vs. rHGG p = 0.006). Separation of HCTR from pHGG was possible when maximum serum PpIX levels were reached (CI95% of tMax). ROC analysis of serum PpIX within CI95% of tMax showed successful classification of HCTR and pHGG (AUCROC 0.943, CI95% 0.884–1.000, p < 0.001); the optimal cut-off for diagnosis was 1275 pmol PpIX/ml serum, reaching 87.0% accuracy, 90.5% positive predictive and 84.0% negative predictive value. Baseline PpIX level was similar in patient and control groups. Thus, 5-ALA is required for PpIX induction, which is safe at the standard clinical dosage. PpIX is a new target for liquid biopsy in glioma. More extensive clinical studies are required to characterize its full potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4297
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2024. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


Dive into the research topics of 'Protoporphyrin IX in serum of high-grade glioma patients: a novel target for disease monitoring via liquid biopsy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this