Objective: This study investigated whether patients with mild to moderately severe dementia or possible Alzheimer's disease (AD) with Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) Baseline scores of 10-24 would improve when treated with near-infrared photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy.
Background: Animal studies have presented the potential of PBM for AD. Dysregulation of the brain's default mode network (DMN) has been associated with AD, presenting the DMN as an identifiable target for PBM.
Materials and methods: The study used 810 nm, 10 Hz pulsed, light-emitting diode devices combining transcranial plus intranasal PBM to treat the cortical nodes of the DMN (bilateral mesial prefrontal cortex, precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex, angular gyrus, and hippocampus). Five patients with mild to moderately severe cognitive impairment were entered into 12 weeks of active treatment as well as a follow-up no-treatment, 4-week period. Patients were assessed with the MMSE and Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog) tests. The protocol involved weekly, in-clinic use of a transcranial-intranasal PBM device; and daily at-home use of an intranasal-only device.
Results: There was significant improvement after 12 weeks of PBM (MMSE, p < 0.003; ADAS-cog, p < 0.023). Increased function, better sleep, fewer angry outbursts, less anxiety, and wandering were reported post-PBM. There were no negative side effects. Precipitous declines were observed during the follow-up no-treatment, 4-week period. This is the first completed PBM case series to report significant, cognitive improvement in mild to moderately severe dementia and possible AD cases.
Conclusions: Results suggest that larger, controlled studies are warranted. PBM shows potential for home treatment of patients with dementia and AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; LED; LLLT; dementia; intranasal; photobiomodulation; transcranial.