Macrophages play key roles in the secondary injury stage of spinal cord injury (SCI). M1 macrophages occupy the lesion area and secrete high levels of inflammatory factors that hinder lesion repair, and M2 macrophages can secrete neurotrophic factors and promote axonal regeneration. The regulation of macrophage secretion after SCI is critical for injury repair. Low-level laser therapy (810-nm) (LLLT) can boost functional rehabilitation in rats after SCI; however, the mechanisms remain unclear. To explore this issue, we established an in vitro model of low-level laser irradiation of M1 macrophages, and the effects of LLLT on M1 macrophage polarization and neurotrophic factor secretion and the related mechanisms were investigated. The results showed that LLLT irradiation decreased the expression of M1 macrophage-specific markers, and increased the expression of M2 macrophage-specific markers. Through forward and reverse experiments, we verified that LLLT can promote the secretion of various neurotrophic factors by activating the PKA-CREB pathway in macrophages and finally promote the regeneration of axons. Accordingly, LLLT may be an effective therapeutic approach for SCI with clinical application prospects.
Keywords: M1 macrophage; axonal regeneration; low-level laser therapy; macrophage polarization; spinal cord injury.
© 2019 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine.