Near-infrared photobiomodulation combined with coenzyme Q10 for depression in a mouse model of restraint stress: reduction in oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and apoptosis

Brain Res Bull. 2019 Jan:144:213-222. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2018.10.010. Epub 2018 Oct 29.


This study was aimed to evaluate the effects of near-infrared (NIR) photobiomodulation (PBM) combined with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) on depressive-like behavior, cerebral oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis markers in mice. To induce a depressive-like model, mice were subjected to sub-chronic restraint stress for 5 consecutive days. NIR PBM (810 nm laser, 33.3 J/cm2) and/or CoQ10 (500 mg/kg/day, gavage) were administered for five days concomitantly with immobilization. Behavior was evaluated by the forced swim test (FST), tail suspension test (TST), and open field test (OFT). Mitochondrial membrane potential as well as oxidative stress, neuroinflammatory, and markers of apoptosis were evaluated in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus (HIP). The serum levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, cortisol, and corticosterone were also measured. PBM or CoQ10, or the combination, ameliorated depressive-like behaviors induced by restraint stress as indicated by decreased immobility time in both the FST and TST. PBM and/or CoQ10 treatments decreased lipid peroxidation and enhanced total antioxidant capacity (TAC), GSH levels, GPx and SOD activities in both brain areas. The neuroinflammatory response in the HIP and PFC was suppressed, as indicated by decreased NF-kB, p38, and JNK levels in PBM and/or CoQ10 groups. Intrinsic apoptosis biomarkers, BAX, Bcl-2, cytochrome c release, and caspase-3 and -9, were also significantly down-regulated by both treatments. Furthermore, both treatments decreased the elevated serum levels of cortisol, corticosterone, TNF-α, and IL-6 induced by restraint stress. Transcranial NIR PBM and CoQ10 therapies may be effective antidepressant strategies for the prevention of psychopathological and behavioral symptoms induced by stress.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Coenzyme Q(10); Cortisol; Neuroinflammation; Oxidative stress; Photobiomodulation; Restraint stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Depression / chemically induced
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism
  • Ubiquinone / pharmacology


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Ubiquinone
  • coenzyme Q10