Transcranial low-level laser therapy (810 nm) temporarily inhibits peripheral nociception: photoneuromodulation of glutamate receptors, prostatic acid phophatase, and adenosine triphosphate

Neurophotonics. 2016 Jan;3(1):015003. doi: 10.1117/1.NPh.3.1.015003. Epub 2016 Jan 25.


Photobiomodulation or low-level light therapy has been shown to attenuate both acute and chronic pain, but the mechanism of action is not well understood. In most cases, the light is applied to the painful area, but in the present study we applied light to the head. We found that transcranial laser therapy (TLT) applied to mouse head with specific parameters (810 nm laser, [Formula: see text], 7.2 or [Formula: see text]) decreased the reaction to pain in the foot evoked either by pressure (von Frey filaments), cold, or inflammation (formalin injection) or in the tail (evoked by heat). The pain threshold increasing is maximum around 2 h after TLT, remains up to 6 h, and is finished 24 h after TLT. The mechanisms were investigated by quantification of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), immunofluorescence, and hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining of brain tissues. TLT increased ATP and prostatic acid phosphatase (an endogenous analgesic) and reduced the amount of glutamate receptor (mediating a neurotransmitter responsible for conducting nociceptive information). There was no change in the concentration of tubulin, a constituent of the cytoskeleton, and the H&E staining revealed no tissue damage. This is the first study to show inhibition of peripheral pain due to photobiomodulation of the central nervous system.

Keywords: Von Frey filaments; adenosine triphosphate; cold plate test; formalin injection; metabotropic glutamate receptor; nociception; pain threshold; photobiomodulation; prostatic acid phosphatase; tail flick test; transcranial low-level laser therapy.