Therapeutic non-invasive brain treatments in Alzheimer's disease: recent advances and challenges

Inflamm Regen. 2022 Oct 3;42(1):31. doi: 10.1186/s41232-022-00216-8.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the major neurodegenerative diseases and the most common form of dementia. Characterized by the loss of learning, memory, problem-solving, language, and other thinking abilities, AD exerts a detrimental effect on both patients' and families' quality of life. Although there have been significant advances in understanding the mechanism underlying the pathogenesis and progression of AD, there is no cure for AD. The failure of numerous molecular targeted pharmacologic clinical trials leads to an emerging research shift toward non-invasive therapies, especially multiple targeted non-invasive treatments. In this paper, we reviewed the advances of the most widely studied non-invasive therapies, including photobiomodulation (PBM), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and exercise therapy. Firstly, we reviewed the pathological changes of AD and the challenges for AD studies. We then introduced these non-invasive therapies and discussed the factors that may affect the effects of these therapies. Additionally, we review the effects of these therapies and the possible mechanisms underlying these effects. Finally, we summarized the challenges of the non-invasive treatments in future AD studies and clinical applications. We concluded that it would be critical to understand the exact underlying mechanisms and find the optimal treatment parameters to improve the translational value of these non-invasive therapies. Moreover, the combined use of non-invasive treatments is also a promising research direction for future studies and sheds light on the future treatment or prevention of AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Exercise; Non-invasive therapy; Photobiomodulation; Transcranial direct current stimulation; Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review