Effects of photobiomodulation on bone remodeling in an osteoblast-osteoclast co-culture system

Lasers Med Sci. 2022 Mar;37(2):1049-1059. doi: 10.1007/s10103-021-03352-8. Epub 2021 Jun 17.


The general bone anabolic effect of photobiomodulation (PBM) is largely accepted. As a result, PBM therapy is expected to be beneficial in the medical fields of dentistry and bone healing. However, most of the previous in vitro studies on PBM and bone metabolism were performed with single-cell cultures of osteoclast-lineage cells or osteoblast-lineage cells. In the present study, the bone-modulating effects of PBM were evaluated in an in vitro osteoblast/osteoclast co-culture system. Mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMMs) and mouse calvarial pre-osteoblasts cells were purified and used as precursor cells for osteoclasts and osteoblasts, respectively. The PBM effects on single-cell culture of osteoclasts or osteoblasts as well as co-culture were examined by 1.2 J/cm2 low-level Ga-Al-As laser (λ = 808 ± 3 nm, 80 mW, and 80 mA; spot size, 1cm2; NDLux, Seoul, Korea) irradiation for 30 s at daily intervals throughout culture period. At the end of culture, the osteoclast differentiation and osteoblast differentiation were assessed by TRAP staining and ALP staining, respectively. The expressions of osteoclastogenic cytokines were evaluated by RT-PCR and Western blot analyses. Under the single-cell culture condition, PBM enhanced osteoblast differentiation but had minor effects on osteoclast differentiation. However, in the co-culture condition, its osteoblastogenic effect was maintained, and osteoclast differentiation was substantially reduced. Subsequent RT-PCR analyses and western blot results revealed marked reduction in receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) expression and elevation in osteoprotegerin (OPG) expression by PBM in co-cultured cells. More importantly, these alterations in RANKL/OPG levels were not observed under the single-cell culture conditions. Our results highlight the different effects of PBM on bone cells based on culture conditions. Further, our findings suggest the indirect anti-osteoclastogenic effect of PBM, which is accompanied by a decrease in RANKL expression and an increase in OPG expression.

Keywords: Bone remodeling; Osteoblast; Osteoclast; Photobiomudulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Remodeling
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Mice
  • Osteoblasts*
  • Osteoclasts*
  • Osteoprotegerin / genetics
  • Osteoprotegerin / metabolism
  • RANK Ligand / metabolism


  • Osteoprotegerin
  • RANK Ligand