Effects of Chronic Photobiomodulation with Transcranial Near-Infrared Laser on Brain Metabolomics of Young and Aged Rats

Mol Neurobiol. 2021 May;58(5):2256-2268. doi: 10.1007/s12035-020-02247-z. Epub 2021 Jan 8.


Since laser photobiomodulation has been found to enhance brain energy metabolism and cognition, we conducted the first metabolomics study to systematically analyze the metabolites modified by brain photobiomodulation. Aging is often accompanied by cognitive decline and susceptibility to neurodegeneration, including deficits in brain energy metabolism and increased susceptibility of nerve cells to oxidative stress. Changes in oxidative stress and energetic homeostasis increase neuronal vulnerability, as observed in diseases related to brain aging. We evaluated and compared the cortical and hippocampal metabolic pathways of young (4 months old) and aged (20 months old) control rats with those of rats exposed to transcranial near-infrared laser over 58 consecutive days. Statistical analyses of the brain metabolomics data indicated that chronic transcranial photobiomodulation (1) significantly enhances the metabolic pathways of young rats, particularly for excitatory neurotransmission and oxidative metabolism, and (2) restores the altered metabolic pathways of aged rats towards levels found in younger rats, mainly in the cerebral cortex. These novel metabolomics findings may help complement other laser-induced neurocognitive, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects described in the literature.

Keywords: Aging; Brain; Laser; Metabolic profile; Metabolomics; Photobiomodulation.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Lasers*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar