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Aminolevulinic acid

Generic name: aminolevulinic acid (oral) [ a-MEE-noe-LEV-ue-LIN-ik-AS-id ]
Brand name: Gleolan
Dosage form: oral powder for reconstitution (30 mg/mL)
Drug class: Malignancy photosensitizers

Medically reviewed by on Nov 10, 2021. 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.


For 24 hours before and 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 it, or if you have:

  • porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).

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

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

You should not breast-feed within 24 hours after taking aminolevulinic acid. If you use a breast pump during this time, throw out any milk you collect. Do not feed it to your baby.

How is aminolevulinic acid given?

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

For 24 hours before and 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?

Since aminolevulinic acid is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid after taking aminolevulinic acid?

Avoid exposure to sunlight or bright indoor light for 24 hours after taking aminolevulinic acid. Wear a hat and clothing that covers your skin.

Aminolevulinic acid side effects

Signs of an allergic reaction may include: 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:

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • skin redness or swelling, raised red areas;

  • skin rash, itching, or blistering;

  • a seizure;

  • chills; or

  • trouble speaking or understanding what is said to you.

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.

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:

  • St. John's wort;

  • an antibiotic or sulfa drug;

  • a diuretic or "water pill";

  • medicine to treat nausea or vomiting;

  • antipsychotic medication; or

  • an oral diabetes medicine.

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. Do not change the dosing schedule of your other medicines without your doctor's advice.

More about aminolevulinic acid

Patient resources

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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.