Proposed mechanisms of low-level light therapy in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia

Lasers Med Sci. 2021 Jun;36(4):703-713. doi: 10.1007/s10103-020-03159-z. Epub 2020 Oct 28.


Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a global challenge, affecting a large number of people worldwide. Efficacy of the existed treatments can barely meet the demands of patients. Patients who are poorly responding to those treatments are seeking for a more effective and suitable technique to treat their disease. Low-level light therapy (LLLT) is a newly developed technique, which has been proved to stimulate hair growth. Based on the function principle of LLLT in other domains and refer to the published literatures, we write this review to neaten and elucidate the possible mechanism of LLLT in the treatment of AGA. A review of published literature which is associated with keywords LLLT, photobiomodulation, AGA, treatment, hair growth, and mechanism was performed to elucidate the proposed mechanism of LLLT in the treatment of AGA. The present study shows that LLLT can accelerate hair growth in AGA patients. The proposed mechanism of LLLT in treating AGA may vary among different specialists. But we can summarize the consensual mechanisms as follows; low-level light absorbed by chromophores can lead to the production of nitric oxide (NO) and the modulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These mobilized molecules subsequently activate redox-related signaling pathways in hair follicle cells and perifollicular cells. Finally, these activated cells participate in the regrowth of hair follicle. Even though the efficacy of LLLT in the treatment of AGA in both men and women has already been confirmed, the present studies focusing on discovering LLLT are still inadequate and unsystematic. More studies are needed to standardize the optimum treatment parameters applied in promoting hair growth and determine the long-term safety and efficacy of LLLT. Current recognitions about the mechanisms of LLLT, mainly focused on the molecules that may take effect, neglected different cellular components that are functional in the hair follicle macro-environment.

Keywords: Androgenetic alopecia; Hair follicle; Low-level light therapy; Mechanism; Photobiomodulation; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / metabolism
  • Alopecia / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Ovarian Follicle / metabolism
  • Ovarian Follicle / pathology
  • Ovarian Follicle / radiation effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Reactive Oxygen Species