Low-level laser therapy attenuates arthrogenic contracture induced by anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery in rats

Physiol Res. 2022 Jul 29;71(3):389-399. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.934796. Epub 2022 May 26.


Therapeutic approaches to treat joint contracture after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction have not been established. Arthrofibrosis accompanied by joint inflammation following ACL reconstruction is a major cause of arthrogenic contracture. In this study, we examined whether anti-inflammatory treatment using low-level laser therapy (LLLT) can prevent ACL reconstruction-induced arthrogenic contracture. Rats underwent ACL transection and reconstruction surgery in their right knees. Unoperated left knees were used as controls. After surgery, rats were reared with or without daily LLLT (wavelength: 830 nm; power output: 150 mW; power density: 5 W/cm2; for 120 s/day). We assessed the passive extension range of motion (ROM) after myotomy at one and two weeks post-surgery; the reduction in ROM represents the severity of arthrogenic contracture. ROM was markedly decreased by ACL reconstruction at both time points; however, LLLT partially attenuated the decrease in ROM. One week after ACL reconstruction, the gene expression of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1beta in the joint capsule was significantly upregulated, and this upregulation was significantly attenuated by LLLT. Fibrotic changes in the joint capsule, including upregulation of collagen type I and III genes, shortening of the synovium, and thickening were caused by ACL reconstruction and seen at both time points. LLLT attenuated these fibrotic changes as well. Our results indicate that LLLT after ACL reconstruction could attenuate the formation of arthrogenic contracture through inhibition of inflammation and fibrosis in the joint capsule. Thus, LLLT may become a novel therapeutic approach for ACL reconstruction-induced joint contracture.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / complications
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction* / adverse effects
  • Contracture* / etiology
  • Contracture* / prevention & control
  • Fibrosis
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Low-Level Light Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rats