Potential Application of Upconverting Nanoparticles for Brain Photobiomodulation

Reza Meynaghizadeh-Zargar, Farzad Salehpour, Michael R. Hamblin, Javad Mahmoudi, Saeed Sadigh-Eteghad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Brain photobiomodulation (PBM) describes the use of visible to near-infrared light for modulation or stimulation of the central nervous system in both healthy individuals and diseased conditions. Although the transcranial approach to delivering light to the head is the most common technique to stimulate the brain, delivery of light to deeper structures in the brain is still a challenge. The science of nanoparticle engineering in combination with biophotonic excitation could provide a way to overcome this problem. Upconversion is an anti-Stokes process that is capable of transforming low energy photons that penetrate tissue well to higher energy photons with a greater biological effect, but poor tissue penetration. Wavelengths in the third optical window are optimal for light penetration into brain tissue, followed by windows II, IV, and I. The combination of trivalent lanthanide ions within a crystalline host provides a nanostructure that exhibits the upconversion phenomenon. Upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) have been successfully used in various medical fields. Their ability to cross the brain-blood barrier and their low toxicity make them a good candidate for application in brain disorders. It is possible that delivery of UCNPs to the brainstem or deeper parts of the cerebral tissue, followed by irradiation using light wavelengths with good tissue penetration properties, could allow more efficient PBM of the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-605
Number of pages10
JournalPhotobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • anti-Stokes emission
  • better tissue penetration
  • noninvasive brain stimulation
  • photobiomodulation
  • upconverting nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Imaging


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