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Neurophotonics. 2016 Jul;3(3):031404. doi: 10.1117/1.NPh.3.3.031404. Epub 2016 Mar 4.

Review of transcranial photobiomodulation for major depressive disorder: targeting brain metabolism, inflammation, oxidative stress, and neurogenesis.

Author information

1
Massachusetts General Hospital, Depression Clinical and Research Program, One Bowdoin Square, 6th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, United States; Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, 401 Park Drive, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, United States.
2
Massachusetts General Hospital, Depression Clinical and Research Program, One Bowdoin Square, 6th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, United States.
3
Massachusetts General Hospital, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, 50 Blossom Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, United States; Harvard Medical School, Department of Dermatology, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, United States; Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States.
4
Synaptic Space, 3979 East Arapahoe Road, Littleton, Colorado 80122, United States; Neuro-Laser Foundation, Suite 420, 215 South Wadsworth, Lakewood, Colorado 80226, United States.
5
Mount Sinai Medical School, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, 1428 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10029, United States; Mount Sinai Medical School, Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 1 Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, New York 10029, United States.

Abstract

We examined the use of near-infrared and red radiation (photobiomodulation, PBM) for treating major depressive disorder (MDD). While still experimental, preliminary data on the use of PBM for brain disorders are promising. PBM is low-cost with potential for wide dissemination; further research on PBM is sorely needed. We found clinical and preclinical studies via PubMed search (2015), using the following keywords: "near-infrared radiation," "NIR," "low-level light therapy," "low-level laser therapy," or "LLLT" plus "depression." We chose clinically focused studies and excluded studies involving near-infrared spectroscopy. In addition, we used PubMed to find articles that examine the link between PBM and relevant biological processes including metabolism, inflammation, oxidative stress, and neurogenesis. Studies suggest the processes aforementioned are potentially effective targets for PBM to treat depression. There is also clinical preliminary evidence suggesting the efficacy of PBM in treating MDD, and comorbid anxiety disorders, suicidal ideation, and traumatic brain injury. Based on the data collected to date, PBM appears to be a promising treatment for depression that is safe and well-tolerated. However, large randomized controlled trials are still needed to establish the safety and effectiveness of this new treatment for MDD.

KEYWORDS:

NILT; inflammation; low-level laser therapy; low-level light therapy; major depressive disorder; metabolism; near-infrared; near-infrared radiation; neurogenesis; oxidative stress; photobiomodulation

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