Photobiomodulation using low-level 808 nm diode laser rescues cochlear synaptopathy after acoustic overexposure in rat

J Biophotonics. 2019 Nov;12(11):e201900145. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201900145. Epub 2019 Jul 15.


A certain degree of noise can cause hearing problems without a permanent change in the hearing threshold, which is called hidden hearing loss and results from partial loss of auditory synapses. Photobiomodulation (PBM) enhances neural growth and connections in the peripheral nervous systems. In this study, we assessed whether PBM could rescue cochlear synaptopathy after acoustic overexposure in rat. PBM was performed for 7 days after noise exposure. The auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) were acquired before and after noise exposure using a tone and a paired-click stimulus. Auditory response to paired click sound with short time interval was performed to evaluate auditory temporal processing ability. In the result, hearing threshold recovered 2 weeks after noise exposure in both groups. Peak wave 1 amplitude of the ABR and ABR recovery threshold did not recover in the noise only group, whereas it fully recovered in the noise + PBM group. The number of synaptic ribbons was significantly different in the control and noise only groups, while there was no difference between the control and noise + PBM group. These results indicate that PBM rescued peak wave 1 amplitude and maintained the auditory temporal processing ability resulting from a loss of synaptic ribbons after acoustic overexposure.

Keywords: cochlear synaptopathy; noise-induced hearing loss; paired-click ABR; photobiomodulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold / radiation effects
  • Cochlea / radiation effects*
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Hearing / radiation effects
  • Lasers, Semiconductor*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Rats
  • Synapses / pathology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / radiation effects*