Photobiomodulation Suppresses Alpha-Synuclein-Induced Toxicity in an AAV-Based Rat Genetic Model of Parkinson's Disease

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 20;10(10):e0140880. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140880. eCollection 2015.


Converging lines of evidence indicate that near-infrared light treatment, also known as photobiomodulation (PBM), may exert beneficial effects and protect against cellular toxicity and degeneration in several animal models of human pathologies, including neurodegenerative disorders. In the present study, we report that chronic PMB treatment mitigates dopaminergic loss induced by unilateral overexpression of human α-synuclein (α-syn) in the substantia nigra of an AAV-based rat genetic model of Parkinson's disease (PD). In this model, daily exposure of both sides of the rat's head to 808-nm near-infrared light for 28 consecutive days alleviated α-syn-induced motor impairment, as assessed using the cylinder test. This treatment also significantly reduced dopaminergic neuronal loss in the injected substantia nigra and preserved dopaminergic fibers in the ipsilateral striatum. These beneficial effects were sustained for at least 6 weeks after discontinuing the treatment. Together, our data point to PBM as a possible therapeutic strategy for the treatment of PD and other related synucleinopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Corpus Striatum / radiation effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / pathology
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / radiotherapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Substantia Nigra / radiation effects*

Grant support

This work was in part supported by Medos International Sàrl, a Johnson&Johnson company. The funder provided support in the form of salaries for authors [BL, YT], but did not have any additional role in the study design, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section. HAL, GW, HvdB and AO were supported by the Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne and JP and BL were supported by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI). Additional supports were provided by the CTI projects 13758.1 and 14660.1, and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) projects N° 205320_147141 and CR32I3_159746.