Influence of photobiomodulation therapy on the treatment of pulmonary inflammatory conditions and its impact on COVID-19

Lasers Med Sci. 2022 Apr;37(3):1921-1929. doi: 10.1007/s10103-021-03452-5. Epub 2021 Oct 25.


We are currently facing a pandemic that continuously causes high death rates and has negative economic and psychosocial impacts. Therefore, this period requires a quick search for viable procedures that can allow us to use safe and non-invasive clinical tools as prophylactic or even adjuvant methods in the treatment of COVID-19. Some evidence shows that photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) can attenuate the inflammatory response and reduce respiratory disorders similar to acute lung injury (ALI), complications associated with infections, such as the one caused by the new Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Hence, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the influence of PBMT (infrared low-level laser therapy) on the treatment of ALI, one of the main critical complications of COVID-19 infection, in an experimental model in rats. Twenty-four male Wistar rats were randomly allocated to three experimental groups (n = 8): control group (CG), controlled ALI (ALI), and acute lung injury and PBM (ALIP). For treatment, a laser equipment was used (808 nm; 30 mw; 1.68 J) applied at three sites (anterior region of the trachea and in the ventral regions of the thorax, bilaterally) in the period of 1 and 24 h after induction of ALI. For treatment evaluation, descriptive histopathological analysis, lung injury score, analysis of the number of inflammatory cells, and expression of interleukin 1 β (IL-1β) were performed. In the results, it was possible to observe that the treatment with PBMT reduced inflammatory infiltrates, thickening of the alveolar septum, and lung injury score when compared to the ALI group. In addition, PBMT showed lower immunoexpression of IL-1β. Therefore, based on the results observed in the present study, it can be concluded that treatment with PBMT (infrared low-level laser therapy) was able to induce an adequate tissue response capable of modulating the signs of inflammatory process in ALI, one of the main complications of COVID-19.

Keywords: Acute lung injury; COVID-19; Low-level laser; Photobiomodulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19* / radiotherapy
  • Low-Level Light Therapy* / methods
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • SARS-CoV-2