Photobiomodulation Therapy Attenuates Anxious-Depressive-Like Behavior in the TgF344 Rat Model

J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;83(4):1415-1429. doi: 10.3233/JAD-201616.


Background: Anxious-depressive-like behavior has been recognized as an early endophenotype in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent studies support early treatment of anxious-depressive-like behavior as a potential target to alleviate memory loss and reduce the risk of developing dementia. We hypothesize that photobiomodulation (PBM) could be an effective method to alleviate depression and anxiety at the early stage of AD pathogenesis.

Objective: To analyze the effect of PBM treatment on anxious-depressive-like behavior at the early stage of AD.

Methods: Using a novel transgenic AD rat model, animals were divided into wild-type, AD+sham PBM, and AD+PBM groups. Two-minute daily PBM (irradiance: 25 mW/cm2 and fluence: 3 J/cm2 at the cortical level) was applied transcranially to the brain of AD animals from 2 months of age to 10 months of age. After completing PBM treatment at 10 months of age, behavioral tests were performed to measure learning, memory, and anxious-depressive-like behavior. Neuronal apoptosis, neuronal degeneration, neuronal damage, mitochondrial function, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress were measured to test the effects of PBM on AD animals.

Results: Behavioral tests showed that: 1) no spatial memory deficits were detected in TgF344 rats at 10 months of age; 2) PBM alleviated anxious-depressive-like behavior in TgF344 rats; 3) PBM attenuated neuronal damage, degeneration, and apoptosis; and 4) PBM suppresses neuroinflammation and oxidative stress.

Conclusion: Our findings support our hypothesis that PBM could be an effective method to alleviate depression and anxiety during the early stage of AD development. The mechanism underlying these beneficial effects may be due to the improvement of mitochondria function and integrity and the inhibition of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress.

Keywords: Anxiety; TgF344 rats; depression; low-level laser therapy; photobiomodulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / radiotherapy
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Apoptosis
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Mitochondria / radiation effects
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Oxidative Stress / radiation effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Transgenic*