Photobiomodulation promotes repair following spinal cord injury by restoring neuronal mitochondrial bioenergetics via AMPK/PGC-1α/TFAM pathway

Spinal cord study
This post might contain affiliate links

Best Red Light Therapy Commentary

Researchers treated spinal cord injuries with 810 nm infrared embedded fibers. The goal was  to investigate how red light therapy produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s biological batteries.

The therapy restored mitochondrial activity that the spinal cord injuries had reduced. The mitochondria produced more ATP, and reduced the amount of cell death (apoptosis).

Researchers determined that the light activated the AMPK/PGC-1α/TFAM pathway, promoting ATP production after spinal injury.

  • AMPK is Adenosine 5′-monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase,
  • PGC-1α is peroxisome proliferative activated receptor γ (PPARγ) coactivator 1α (PGC-1α)
  • TFAM is mitochondrial transcription factor A
Photobiomodulation of mouse spine using light fibers
Photobiomodulation is usually the non-invasive delivery of low energy photons. In this case, the researchers implanted light fibers to deliver the light directly to the spinal cord. (picture source)

Red Light Therapy Study

Front Pharmacol. 2022 Sep 12;13:991421. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.991421. eCollection 2022.


Background: Insufficient neuronal mitochondrial bioenergetics supply occurs after spinal cord injury (SCI), leading to neuronal apoptosis and impaired motor function. Previous reports have shown that photobiomodulation (PBM) could reduce neuronal apoptosis and promote functional recovery, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Therefore, we aimed to investigate whether PBM improved prognosis by promoting neuronal mitochondrial bioenergetics after SCI. Methods: Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups: a Sham group, an SCI group, an SCI + PBM group and an SCI + PBM + Compound C group. After SCI model was established, PBM and Compound C (an AMPK inhibitor) injection were carried out. The level of neuron apoptosis, the recovery of motor function and mitochondrial function were observed at different times (7, 14, and 28 days). The AMPK/PGC-1α/TFAM pathway was hypothesized to be a potential target through which PBM could affect neuronal mitochondrial bioenergetics. In vitro, ventral spinal cord 4.1 (VSC4.1) cells were irradiated with PBM and cotreated with Compound C after oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD). Results: PBM promoted the recovery of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex activity, increased ATP production, alleviated neuronal apoptosis and reversed motor dysfunction after SCI. The activation of the AMPK/PGC-1α/TFAM pathway after SCI were facilitated by PBM but inhibited by Compound C. Equally important, PBM could inhibit OGD-induced VSC4.1 cell apoptosis by increasing ATP production whereas these changes could be abolished by Compound C. Conclusion: PBM activated AMPK/PGC-1α/TFAM pathway to restore mitochondrial bioenergetics and exerted neuroprotective effects after SCI.

PMID:36172183 | PMC:PMC9512226 | DOI:10.3389/fphar.2022.991421

Read these next

link to Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in patients with lower extremity tendinopathy or plantar fasciitis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in patients with lower extremity tendinopathy or plantar fasciitis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

CONCLUSION: LLLT significantly reduces pain and disability in lower extremity tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis in the short and medium term. Long-term data were not available. Some uncertainty...