Effects of low-power laser radiation on mice immunity

Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2006 Feb;22(1):33-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0781.2006.00191.x.


Background/purpose: Because of large interest in biological effects of laser radiation used in laser therapy, the effect of extremely low-level red laser light intensity on the immune cell activity has been studied in the animal model with well-characterized macrophage and T cell populations as responder cells producing cytokines, protective proteins, active oxygen, and nitric compounds. To study of the possible side effects of laser immunotherapy we monitored the productions of cytokines, nitric oxide (NO), and heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) in mice subjected to a periodic laser exposure for 1 month.

Methods: Helium-neon laser radiation with the power of 0.2 mW/cm2 and wavelength of 632.8 nm was applied on two different mouse skin surfaces, i.e. a thymus projection area or a hind limb. Healthy NMRI male mice were irradiated repeatedly with laser light for 1 min with 48-h intervals for 30 days. The animals were divided into three groups of 25 mice. The first and the second groups were exposed to laser light, on the thymus and hind limb area, respectively. The third, sham-irradiated group served as a control. Early and prolonged effects of laser radiation on the levels of NO (by Griess assay), Hsp70 (by Western blot assay), tumor necrosis factors (TNF-alpha and TNF-beta) (by cytotoxic assay using L929 cells as targets), and interleukin-2 (IL-2) (by ELISA assay) were determined.

Results: The dynamics of immune responses to low-power laser light intensity was shown to be dependent on two factors, i.e. the cumulative dose and the localization of the irradiated surface. Besides, various populations of cells demonstrated different sensitivity to laser radiation, with T cells being more responsive among examined populations of the cells. Low intensity laser light induced an immune cell activity when the exposure duration did not exceed 10 days, while a more prolonged period of treatment generated more severe changes in the immune system, up to immunosuppression. The treatment of the thymus zone resulted in more pronounced changes in the cytokine production as well as in NO and Hsp70 synthesis.

Conclusion: Low-power laser irradiation showed more effective immunomodulatory effects when applied on the thymus projection area. The rise in IL-2 and Hsp70 production related to a short-term effect of laser application may be reversed after repeating laser treatment. We suggest that for the support of immune system stability, the prolonged laser therapy should be accompanied by supplementary methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / radiation effects
  • Helium
  • Immunity / radiation effects*
  • Interferon-gamma / radiation effects
  • Interleukin-2 / radiation effects
  • Interleukin-6 / radiation effects
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neon
  • Nitric Oxide / radiation effects
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Thymus Gland / radiation effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / radiation effects


  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Helium
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Neon
  • Interferon-gamma