Transcranial low-level laser therapy increases memory, learning, neuroprogenitor cells, BDNF and synaptogenesis in mice with traumatic brain injury

Weijun Xuan, Liyi Huang, Fatma Vatansever, Tanupriya Agrawal, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Increasing concern is evident over the epidemic of traumatic brain injury in both civilian and military medicine, and the lack of approved treatments. Transcranial low level laser therapy tLLLT) is a new approach in which near infrared laser is delivered to the head, penetrates the scalp and skull to reach the brain. We asked whether tLLLT at 810-nm could improve memory and learning in mice with controlled cortical impact traumatic brain injury. We investigated the mechanism of action by immunofluorescence studies in sections from brains of mice sacrificed at different times. Mice with TBI treated with 1 or 3 daily laser applications performed better on Morris Water Maze test at 28 days. Laser treated mice had increased BrdU incorporation into NeuN positive cells in the dentate gyrus and subventricular zone indicating formation of neuroprogenitor cells at 7 days and less at 28 days. Markers of neuron migration (DCX and Tuj1) were also increased, as was the neurotrophin, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) at 7 days. Markers of synaptogenesis (formation of new connections between existing neurons) were increased in the perilesional cortex at 28 days. tLLLT is proposed to be able to induce the brain to repair itself after injury. However its ability to induce neurogenesis and synaptogenesis suggests that tLLLT may have much wider applications to neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMechanisms for Low-Light Therapy X
EditorsMichael R. Hamblin, Praveen Arany, James D. Carroll
ISBN (Electronic)9781628413991
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventMechanisms for Low-Light Therapy X - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 7 Feb 20158 Feb 2015

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


ConferenceMechanisms for Low-Light Therapy X
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • BDNF
  • LLLT
  • dentate gyrus
  • neurogenesis
  • synaptogenesis
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Imaging


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