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Rev Neurosci. 2017 May 24;28(4):441-453. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2016-0087.

The potential of transcranial photobiomodulation therapy for treatment of major depressive disorder.


Major depressive disorder is a common debilitating mood disorder that affects quality of life. Prefrontal cortex abnormalities, an imbalance in neurotransmitters, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction are the major factors in the etiology of major depressive disorder. Despite the efficacy of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder, 30%-40% of patients do not respond to antidepressants. Given this, exploring the alternative therapies for treatment or prevention of major depressive disorder has aroused interest among scientists. Transcranial photobiomodulation therapy is the use of low-power lasers and light-emitting diodes in the far-red to near-infrared optical region for stimulation of neuronal activities. This non-invasive modality improves the metabolic capacity of neurons due to more oxygen consumption and ATP production. Beneficial effects of transcranial photobiomodulation therapy in the wide range of neurological and psychological disorders have been already shown. In this review, we focus on some issue relating to the application of photobiomodulation therapy for major depressive disorder. There is some evidence that transcranial photobiomodulation therapy using near-infrared light on 10-Hz pulsed mode appears to be a hopeful technique for treatment of major depressive disorder. However, further studies are necessary to find the safety of this method and to determine its effective treatment protocol.


cerebral blood flow; depression; near-infrared; photobiomodulation; prefrontal cortex; pulsed light

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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