Responses of melanoma cells to photobiomodulation depend on cell pigmentation and light parameters

J Photochem Photobiol B. 2022 Oct:235:112567. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2022.112567. Epub 2022 Sep 13.


Melanoma is a highly aggressive skin cancer that requires new approaches for its management. Low-level laser therapy, currently named photobiomodulation therapy (PBM), has been used to improve different conditions but its effects and safe use on melanoma remain unexplored. Herein, we investigated the PBM impact on melanoma cells differing by pigmentation using near-infrared (NIR) and red lasers in vitro. In vivo, we evaluated the effects of the red laser on melanoma-bearing mice. Amelanotic (SK-MEL-37) and melanotic (B16F10) cells were exposed in vitro to a NIR (780 nm, 40 mW) or a red laser (660 nm, 40 mW) in 3 different light doses: 30, 90, and 150 J/cm2 and responses were assessed regarding mitochondrial activity, invasiveness, migration, and VEGF production. In vivo, melanoma-bearing mice received the red laser delivering 150 J/cm2 directly to the tumor on 3 consecutive days. Mice were monitored for 15 days regarding tumor progression and mouse survival. We noticed that amelanotic cells were unresponsive to NIR light. In contrast, NIR irradiation at 30 J/cm2 promoted an increase in the invasiveness of pigmented cells, even though all light doses have inhibited cell migration. Regarding the red laser on pigmented cells, the highest light dose (150 J/cm2) decreased the VEGF production and migration. In vivo, melanoma-bearing mice treated with red laser showed smaller tumor volume and longer survival than controls. We conclude that PBM appears to be safe for amelanotic non-pigmented melanoma but triggers different responses in melanotic pigmented cells depending on light parameters. Additionally, a high dose of red laser impairs the invasive behavior of melanoma cells, probably due to the decrease in VEGF synthesis, which may have contributed to tumor arrest and increased mouse survival. These findings suggest that red laser therapy could be a new ally in the supportive care of melanoma patients.

Keywords: Amelanotic melanoma; Low-level laser therapy; Near-infrared laser; Neoplasm invasion; Preclinical; Red laser; VEGF.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Light
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Melanoma* / radiotherapy
  • Mice
  • Pigmentation
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A