Photobiomodulation with a wavelength > 800 nm induces morphological changes in stem cells within otic organoids and scala media of the cochlea

Lasers Med Sci. 2021 Dec;36(9):1917-1925. doi: 10.1007/s10103-021-03268-3. Epub 2021 Feb 18.


Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a therapeutic approach to certain diseases based on light energy. Currently, stem cells (SCs) are being considered as putative treatments for previously untreatable diseases. One medical condition that could be treated using SCs is sensorineural hearing loss. Theoretically, if properly delivered and differentiated, SCs could replace lost hair cells in the cochlea. However, this is not currently possible due to the structural complexity and limited survival of SCs within the cochlea. PBM facilitates SC differentiation into other target cells in multiple lineages. Using light with a wavelength > 800 nm, which can penetrate the inner ear through the tympanic membrane, we assessed morphological changes of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) during "otic organoid" generation, and within the scala media (SM) of the cochlea, after light energy stimulation. We observed enhanced differentiation, which was confirmed by an increased number of otic vesicles and increased cell attachment inside the SM. These results suggest that > 800-nm light affected the morphology of mESCs within otic organoids and SM of the cochlea. Based on our results, light energy could be used to enhance otic sensory differentiation, despite the structural complexity of the inner ear and limited survival time of SCs within the cochleae. Additional studies to refine the light energy delivery technology and maximize the effect on otic differentiation are required.

Keywords: Hearing loss; Mouse embryonic stem cell; Photobiomodulation; Regeneration.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cochlea
  • Cochlear Duct
  • Ear, Inner*
  • Mice
  • Organoids*
  • Stem Cells