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J Neurotrauma. 2018 Jul 1;35(13):1510-1522. doi: 10.1089/neu.2017.5249. Epub 2018 Apr 30.

Nano-Pulsed Laser Therapy Is Neuroprotective in a Rat Model of Blast-Induced Neurotrauma.

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1 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Texas Medical Branch , Galveston, Texas.
2 Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch , Galveston, Texas.
3 Center for Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas Medical Branch , Galveston, Texas.


We have developed a novel, non-invasive nano-pulsed laser therapy (NPLT) system that combines the benefits of near-infrared laser light (808 nm) and ultrasound (optoacoustic) waves, which are generated with each short laser pulse within the tissue. We tested NPLT in a rat model of blast-induced neurotrauma (BINT) to determine whether transcranial application of NPLT provides neuroprotective effects. The laser pulses were applied on the intact rat head 1 h after injury using a specially developed fiber-optic system. Vestibulomotor function was assessed on post-injury days (PIDs) 1-3 on the beam balance and beam walking tasks. Cognitive function was assessed on PIDs 6-10 using a working memory Morris water maze (MWM) test. BDNF and caspase-3 messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was measured by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) in laser-captured cortical neurons. Microglia activation and neuronal injury were assessed in brain sections by immunofluorescence using specific antibodies against CD68 and active caspase-3, respectively. In the vestibulomotor and cognitive (MWM) tests, NPLT-treated animals performed significantly better than the untreated blast group and similarly to sham animals. NPLT upregulated mRNA encoding BDNF and downregulated the pro-apoptotic protein caspase-3 in cortical neurons. Immunofluorescence demonstrated that NPLT inhibited microglia activation and reduced the number of cortical neurons expressing activated caspase-3. NPLT also increased expression of BDNF in the hippocampus and the number of proliferating progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus. Our data demonstrate a neuroprotective effect of NPLT and prompt further studies aimed to develop NPLT as a therapeutic intervention after traumatic brain injury (TBI).


blast injury; near-infrared light; neuroprotection; non-invasive transcranial laser therapy; optoacoustics; traumatic brain injury

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