Photostimulation of mitochondria as a treatment for retinal neurodegeneration

Mitochondrion. 2017 Sep;36:85-95. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2017.05.002. Epub 2017 May 9.


Absorption of photon energy by neuronal mitochondria leads to numerous downstream neuroprotective effects. Red and near infrared (NIR) light are associated with significantly less safety concerns than light of shorter wavelengths and they are therefore, the optimal choice for irradiating the retina. Potent neuroprotective effects have been demonstrated in various models of retinal damage, by red/NIR light, with limited data from human studies showing its ability to improve visual function. Improved neuronal mitochondrial function, increased blood flow to neural tissue, upregulation of cell survival mediators and restoration of normal microglial function have all been proposed as potential underlying mechanisms of red/NIR light.

Keywords: Low-level light therapy; Near infrared light; Neurodegeneration; Photobiomodulation; Photostimulation; Red light; Retina.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Mitochondria / radiation effects*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / radiotherapy*
  • Retinal Diseases / radiotherapy*