Photobiomodulation Therapy Attenuates Hypoxic-Ischemic Injury in a Neonatal Rat Model

J Mol Neurosci. 2018 Aug;65(4):514-526. doi: 10.1007/s12031-018-1121-3. Epub 2018 Jul 22.


Photobiomodulation (PBM) has been demonstrated as a neuroprotective strategy, but its effect on perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is still unknown. The current study was designed to shed light on the potential beneficial effect of PBM on neonatal brain injury induced by hypoxia ischemia (HI) in a rat model. Postnatal rats were subjected to hypoxic-ischemic insult, followed by a 7-day PBM treatment via a continuous wave diode laser with a wavelength of 808 nm. We demonstrated that PBM treatment significantly reduced HI-induced brain lesion in both the cortex and hippocampal CA1 subregions. Molecular studies indicated that PBM treatment profoundly restored mitochondrial dynamics by suppressing HI-induced mitochondrial fragmentation. Further investigation of mitochondrial function revealed that PBM treatment remarkably attenuated mitochondrial membrane collapse, accompanied with enhanced ATP synthesis in neonatal HI rats. In addition, PBM treatment led to robust inhibition of oxidative damage, manifested by significant reduction in the productions of 4-HNE, P-H2AX (S139), malondialdehyde (MDA), as well as protein carbonyls. Finally, PBM treatment suppressed the activation of mitochondria-dependent neuronal apoptosis in HI rats, as evidenced by decreased pro-apoptotic cascade 3/9 and TUNEL-positive neurons. Taken together, our findings demonstrated that PBM treatment contributed to a robust neuroprotection via the attenuation of mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and final neuronal apoptosis in the neonatal HI brain.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Neonatal hypoxic-ischemia; Oxidative stress; Photobiomodulation therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / therapy*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Protein Carbonylation
  • Rats