A transient protective effect of low-level laser irradiation against disuse-induced atrophy of rats

Lasers Med Sci. 2019 Dec;34(9):1829-1839. doi: 10.1007/s10103-019-02778-5. Epub 2019 Apr 4.


Satellite cells, a population of skeletal muscular stem cells, are generally recognized as the main and, possibly, the sole source of postnatal muscle regeneration. Previous studies have revealed the potential of low-level laser (LLL) irradiation in promoting satellite cell proliferation, which, thereby, boosts the recovery of skeletal muscle from atrophy. The purpose of this study is to investigate the beneficial effect of LLL on disuse-induced atrophy. The optimal irradiation condition of LLL (808 nm) enhancing the proliferation of Pax7+ve cells, isolated from tibialis anterior (TA) muscle, was examined and applied on TA muscle of disuse-induced atrophy model of the rats accordingly. Healthy rats were used as the control. On one hand, transiently, LLL was able to postpone the progression of atrophy for 1 week through a reduction of apoptosis in Pax7-veMyoD+ve (myocyte) population. Simultaneously, a significant enhancement was observed in Pax7+veMyoD+ve population; however, most of the increased cells underwent apoptosis since the second week, which suggested an impaired maturation of the population. On the other hand, in normal control rats with LLL irradiation, a significant increase in Pax7+veMyoD+ve cells and a significant decrease of apoptosis were observed. As a result, a strengthened muscle contraction was observed. Our data showed the capability of LLL in postponing the progression of disuse-induced atrophy for the first time. Furthermore, the result of normal rats with LLL irradiation showed the effectiveness of LLL to strengthen muscle contraction in healthy control.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Disuse-induced atrophy; Enhanced proliferation; Low-level laser irradiation; Myoblast; Transient protective effect.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Muscular Disorders, Atrophic / radiotherapy*
  • PAX7 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • PAX7 Transcription Factor