Transcranial near-infrared light in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases

Author: Damir Nizamutdinov1,2, Chibueze Ezeudu2, Erxi Wu1,2,3,4, Jason H Huang1,2, S Stephen Yi4
1 Baylor Scott and White Health, Neuroscience Institute, Neurosurgery, TX, United States.
2 Texas A&M University, College of Medicine, Neurosurgery, TX, United States.
3 Texas A&M University, School of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, TX, United States.
4 Department of Oncology, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin, TX, United States.
Conference/Journal: Front Pharmacol
Date published: 2022 Aug 8
Other: Volume ID: 13 , Pages: 965788 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.965788. , Word Count: 307

Light is a natural agent consisting of a range of visible and invisible electromagnetic spectrum travels in waves. Near-infrared (NIR) light refers to wavelengths from 800 to 2,500 nm. It is an invisible spectrum to naked eyes and can penetrate through soft and hard tissues into deep structures of the human body at specific wavelengths. NIR light may carry different energy levels depending on the intensity of emitted light and therapeutic spectrum (wavelength). Stimulation with NIR light can activate intracellular cascades of biochemical reactions with local short- and long-term positive effects. These properties of NIR light are employed in photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy, have been linked to treating several brain pathologies, and are attracting more scientific attention in biomedicine. Transcranial brain stimulations with NIR light PBM in recent animal and human studies revealed a positive impact of treatment on the progression and improvement of neurodegenerative processes, management of brain energy metabolism, and regulation of chronic brain inflammation associated with various conditions, including traumatic brain injury. This scientific overview incorporates the most recent cellular and functional findings in PBM with NIR light in treating neurodegenerative diseases, presents the discussion of the proposed mechanisms of action, and describes the benefits of this treatment in neuroprotection, cell preservation/detoxification, anti-inflammatory properties, and regulation of brain energy metabolism. This review will also discuss the novel aspects and pathophysiological role of the glymphatic and brain lymphatics system in treating neurodegenerative diseases with NIR light stimulations. Scientific evidence presented in this overview will support a combined effort in the scientific community to increase attention to the understudied NIR light area of research as a natural agent in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases to promote more research and raise awareness of PBM in the treatment of brain disorders.

Keywords: glymphatic; lymphatic; near infrared light (NIR); neurodegenerative diseases; photobiomodulation (PBM); transcranial light therapy.

PMID: 36034819 PMCID: PMC9400541 DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2022.965788