Photobiomodulation and Antiviral Photodynamic Therapy in COVID-19 Management

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021;1318:517-547. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-63761-3_30.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has shocked the world by its spread and contagiousness. There is no approved vaccine and no proven treatment for this infection. Some potential treatments that have already been associated with antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects are under investigation. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) is a photon-based therapy that uses light to mediate a variety of metabolic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory effects. Antiviral photodynamic therapy (aPDT) is a branch of photodynamic therapy based on the reaction between a photosensitizing agent and a light source in the presence of oxygen, which can produce oxidative and free radical agents to damage the viral structures such as proteins and nucleic acids. This chapter aims to discuss the potential therapeutic benefit of PBMT and aPDT in the context of the novel coronavirus. Studies indicate that PBMT and aPDT could be useful in many viral and bacterial pulmonary complications like influenza, SARS-CoV, and MERS, but we found no direct study on SARS-CoV-2. With a combination of PBMT and aPDT, we may be able to combat COVID-19 with minimal interference with pharmaceutical agents. It might improve the efficacy of PBMT and aPDT by using monoclonal antibodies and preparing new photosensitizers at the nanoscale that target the lung tissue specifically. More animal and human studies would need to take place to reach an effective protocol. This chapter would encourage other scientists to work on this new platform.

Keywords: Antiviral photodynamic therapy; COVID-19; Low-level laser therapy; Photobiomodulation; Photodynamic therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Photosensitizing Agents