Effects of Light-Emitting Diode Therapy on Muscle Hypertrophy, Gene Expression, Performance, Damage, and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness: Case-control Study with a Pair of Identical Twins

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Oct;95(10):746-57. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000490.


Objective: The aim of this study was to verify how a pair of monozygotic twins would respond to light-emitting diode therapy (LEDT) or placebo combined with a strength-training program during 12 weeks.

Design: This case-control study enrolled a pair of male monozygotic twins, allocated randomly to LEDT or placebo therapies. Light-emitting diode therapy or placebo was applied from a flexible light-emitting diode array (λ = 850 nm, total energy = 75 J, t = 15 seconds) to both quadriceps femoris muscles of each twin immediately after each strength training session (3 times/wk for 12 weeks) consisting of leg press and leg extension exercises with load of 80% and 50% of the 1-repetition maximum test, respectively. Muscle biopsies, magnetic resonance imaging, maximal load, and fatigue resistance tests were conducted before and after the training program to assess gene expression, muscle hypertrophy and performance, respectively. Creatine kinase levels in blood and visual analog scale assessed muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness, respectively, during the training program.

Results: Compared with placebo, LEDT increased the maximal load in exercise and reduced fatigue, creatine kinase, and visual analog scale. Gene expression analyses showed decreases in markers of inflammation (interleukin 1β) and muscle atrophy (myostatin) with LEDT. Protein synthesis (mammalian target of rapamycin) and oxidative stress defense (SOD2 [mitochondrial superoxide dismutase]) were up-regulated with LEDT, together with increases in thigh muscle hypertrophy.

Conclusions: Light-emitting diode therapy can be useful to reduce muscle damage, pain, and atrophy, as well as to increase muscle mass, recovery, and athletic performance in rehabilitation programs and sports medicine.

Publication types

  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / blood
  • Hypertrophy / pathology
  • Hypertrophy / therapy
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Myalgia / blood
  • Myalgia / pathology
  • Myalgia / therapy*
  • Myostatin / blood
  • Quadriceps Muscle / metabolism
  • Quadriceps Muscle / pathology
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / physiology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology
  • Thigh / pathology
  • Twins, Monozygotic*
  • Up-Regulation
  • Young Adult


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • MSTN protein, human
  • Myostatin
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • superoxide dismutase 2
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Creatine Kinase