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Aminolevulinic acid

Generic name: aminolevulinic acid (oral) [ a-MEE-noh-lev-yoo-lin-ik-AS-id ]
Brand name: Gleolan
Dosage form: oral powder for reconstitution (30 mg/mL)
Drug class: Malignancy photosensitizers

Medically reviewed by on Feb 27, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is aminolevulinic acid?

Aminolevulinic acid is given before surgery to remove a glioma (a type of brain or spinal cord tumor).

Taking aminolevulinic acid causes a certain substance to build up within your tumor tissue. This allows the tissue to be seen more clearly through a special light scope that is used during surgery to remove the tumor.

Aminolevulinic acid may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Aminolevulinic acid side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Your caregivers will watch you closely to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction, and to treat a reaction if it does occur.

Many side effects can occur up to 6 weeks after you took aminolevulinic acid. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Common side effects of aminolevulinic acid may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


For 48 hours after taking aminolevulinic acid, you will need to protect your skin from light, both sunlight and bright indoor light.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use aminolevulinic acid if you are allergic to aminolevulinic acid or porphyrins, or if you have:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had liver or kidney disease.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

Do not breastfeed within 24 hours after using aminolevulinic acid. If you use a breast pump during this time, throw out the milk and do not feed it to your baby.

How should I use aminolevulinic acid?

Aminolevulinic acid is usually given about 3 hours before surgery. A healthcare provider will prepare and give you this medicine.

For 48 hours after taking aminolevulinic acid, you will need to protect your skin from bright light. Avoid exposure to both sunlight and bright indoor light. Wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when you are outdoors. If you feel stinging or burning of the treated skin, reduce your exposure to light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Aminolevulinic acid is used as a single dose and does not have a daily dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

In a medical setting an overdose would be treated quickly.

What should I avoid after using aminolevulinic acid?

Avoid exposure to sunlight or bright indoor light for 48 hours after taking aminolevulinic acid. Wear a hat and clothing that covers your skin.

What other drugs will affect aminolevulinic acid?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines. Certain medicines also can make you more sensitive to bright light and should be avoided within 24 hours before or after you take aminolevulinic acid. This includes:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect aminolevulinic acid, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

More about aminolevulinic acid

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Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.