Photobiomodulation for the treatment of neuroinflammation: A systematic review of controlled laboratory animal studies

Front Neurosci. 2022 Sep 20:16:1006031. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2022.1006031. eCollection 2022.


Background: Neuroinflammation is a response that involves different cell lineages of the central nervous system, such as neurons and glial cells. Among the non-pharmacological interventions for neuroinflammation, photobiomodulation (PBM) is gaining prominence because of its beneficial effects found in experimental brain research. We systematically reviewed the effects of PBM on laboratory animal models, specially to investigate potential benefits of PBM as an efficient anti-inflammatory therapy.

Methods: We conducted a systematic search on the bibliographic databases (PubMed and ScienceDirect) with the keywords based on MeSH terms: photobiomodulation, low-level laser therapy, brain, neuroinflammation, inflammation, cytokine, and microglia. Data search was limited from 2009 to June 2022. We followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline. The initial systematic search identified 140 articles. Among them, 54 articles were removed for duplication and 59 articles by screening. Therefore, 27 studies met the inclusion criteria.

Results: The studies showed that PBM has anti-inflammatory properties in several conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, edema formation and hyperalgesia, ischemia, neurodegenerative conditions, aging, epilepsy, depression, and spinal cord injury.

Conclusion: Taken together, these results indicate that transcranial PBM therapy is a promising strategy to treat brain pathological conditions induced by neuroinflammation.

Keywords: brain; cytokine; inflammation; low-level laser (light) therapy; microglia; neuroinflammation; photobiomodulation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review