Transcranial near-infrared laser therapy applied to promote clinical recovery in acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases

Expert Rev Med Devices. 2012 Jan;9(1):71-83. doi: 10.1586/erd.11.64.


One of the most promising methods to treat neurodegeneration is noninvasive transcranial near-infrared laser therapy (NILT), which appears to promote acute neuroprotection by stimulating mitochondrial function, thereby increasing cellular energy production. NILT may also promote chronic neuronal function restoration via trophic factor-mediated plasticity changes or possibly neurogenesis. Clearly, NILT is a treatment that confers neuroprotection or neurorestoration using pleiotropic mechanisms. The most advanced application of NILT is for acute ischemic stroke based upon extensive preclinical and clinical studies. In laboratory settings, NILT is also being developed to treat traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. There is some intriguing data in the literature that suggests that NILT may be a method to promote clinical improvement in neurodegenerative diseases where there is a common mechanistic component, mitochondrial dysfunction and energy impairment. This article will analyze and review data supporting the continued development of NILT to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / surgery*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*