Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Although cardiac transplantation is considered the most effective therapy for end-stage cardiac diseases, it is limited by the availability of matching donors and the complications of the immune suppressive regimen used to prevent graft rejection. Application of stem cell therapy in experimental animal models was shown to reverse cardiac remodeling, attenuate cardiac fibrosis, improve heart functions, and stimulate angiogenesis. The efficacy of stem cell therapy can be amplified by low-level laser radiation. It is well established that the bio-stimulatory effect of low-level laser is influenced by the following parameters: wavelength, power density, duration, energy density, delivery time, and the type of irradiated target. In this review, we evaluate the available experimental data on treatment of myocardial infarction using low-level laser. Eligible papers were characterized as in vivo experimental studies that evaluated the use of low-level laser therapy on stem cells in order to attenuate myocardial infarction. The following descriptors were used separately and in combination: laser therapy, low-level laser, low-power laser, stem cell, and myocardial infarction. The assessed low-level laser parameters were wavelength (635-804 nm), power density (6-50 mW/cm2), duration (20-150 s), energy density (0.96-1 J/cm2), delivery time (20 min-3 weeks after myocardial infarction), and the type of irradiated target (bone marrow or in vitro-cultured bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells). The analysis focused on the cardioprotective effect of this form of therapy, the attenuation of scar tissue, and the enhancement of angiogenesis as primary targets. Other effects such as cell survival, cell differentiation, and homing are also included. Among the evaluated protocols using different parameters, the best outcome for treating myocardial infarction was achieved by treating the bone marrow by one dose of low-level laser with 804 nm wavelength and 1 J/cm2 energy density within 4 h of the infarction. This approach increased stem cell survival, proliferation, and homing. It has also decreased the infarct size and cell apoptosis, leading to enhanced heart functions. These effects were stable for 6 weeks. However, more studies are still required to assess the effects of low-level laser on the genetic makeup of the cell, the nuclei, and the mitochondria of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs).
Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; Laser effects; Laser parameters; Low-level laser; Low-power laser; Stem cell.