Send to

Choose Destination
Photomed Laser Surg. 2018 Dec;36(12):634-646. doi: 10.1089/pho.2018.4490. Epub 2018 Oct 20.

Transcranial Photobiomodulation for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. The ELATED-2 Pilot Trial.

Author information

Depression Clinical and Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
LiteCure LLC, Newark, Delaware.
Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Adult Psychopharmacology Program, Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.


Objective: Our objective was to test the antidepressant effect of transcranial photobiomodulation (t-PBM) with near-infrared (NIR) light in subjects suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD). Background: t-PBM with NIR light is a new treatment for MDD. NIR light is absorbed by mitochondria; it boosts cerebral metabolism, promotes neuroplasticity, and modulates endogenous opioids, while decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress. Materials and methods: We conducted a double-blind, sham-controlled study on the safety and efficacy [change in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17) total score at end-point] of adjunct t-PBM NIR [823 nm; continuous wave (CW); 28.7 × 2 cm2; 36.2 mW/cm2; up to 65.2 J/cm2; 20-30 min/session], delivered to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, bilaterally and simultaneously, twice a week, for 8 weeks, in subjects with MDD. Baseline observation carried forward (BOCF), last observation carried forward (LOCF), and completers analyses were performed. Results: The effect size for the antidepressant effect of t-PBM, based on change in HAM-D17 total score at end-point, was 0.90, 0.75, and 1.5 (Cohen's d), respectively for BOCF (n = 21), LOCF (n = 19), and completers (n = 13). Further, t-PBM was fairly well tolerated, with no serious adverse events. Conclusions: t-PBM with NIR light demonstrated antidepressant properties with a medium to large effect size in patients with MDD. Replication is warranted, especially in consideration of the small sample size.


depression; low-level laser therapy; randomized controlled trial


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center