Alzheimer's disease is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive cognitive impairment, memory loss, and behavioral changes.
While there is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, recent research has suggested that photobiomodulation (PBM), also known as low-level light therapy or phototherapy, may have the potential to slow down or even reverse the progression of Alzheimer's.
Photobiomodulation (PBM) involves the use of low-level light energy to stimulate cellular function and promote healing. The brain is particularly sensitive to light, and research has shown that photobiomodulation (PBM) can improve brain function by increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and promoting the growth of new neurons and blood vessels. Below are some of the researched benefits of photobiomodulation (PBM) in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Reduction of amyloid-beta protein levels: PBM can reduce the levels of amyloid-beta proteins in the brain, as demonstrated in several studies published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in 2020 and 2018.
- Stimulation of autophagy: PBM has been shown to stimulate autophagy in brain cells, which can help to clear up amyloid-beta proteins.
- Neuroprotection: photobiomodulation (PBM) has neuroprotective effects that can protect neurons from damage.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: photobiomodulation (PBM) has anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce inflammation in the brain.
- Increased BDNF production: photobiomodulation (PBM) can increase BDNF production, which can improve neuronal function.
Saltmarche et al. (2017) conducted a study on five patients with mild to moderately severe dementia that combined transcranial and intranasal PBM to treat specific areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. After 12 weeks of active treatment, the patients showed significant improvements in cognitive function, sleep, and behavioral symptoms, with no negative side effects.
Chao (2019) conducted a pilot trial on eight patients diagnosed with dementia who had a tPBM treatment at home. After 12 weeks, the tPBM group showed improvements in cognitive function, cerebral perfusion (blood flow to the brain), and connectivity within the brain's default-mode network.
Berman et al. (2017) conducted a small pilot double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on 11 subjects with dementia, using a helmet embedded with NIR PBM LEDs. The results showed improvements in executive function, memory, attention, and EEG measures.
Maksimovich, I. (2017) treated a large number of patients with AD in Moscow, Russia using an intravascular catheter approach to deliver light to the brain. The patients showed improvements in cerebral blood flow, reduction of dementia, and restoration of cognitive functions.
Better cognitive scores, olfactory function, quality of life, and caregiver stress in a person with cognitive decline
Salehpour et al. (2018) reported the treatment of a single case with cognitive decline and olfactory dysfunction, using three different wearable LED devices at home. The patient showed significant improvements in cognitive scores, olfactory function, quality of life, and caregiver stress.
Light therapy increases protective proteins in the brain & reduces harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer's Disease
Grillo, S. L. et al. (2013) explored the effects of light therapy on mice with Alzheimer's disease and found that it could potentially be a new treatment option as it increased the levels of certain proteins in the brain that help to protect against damage and reduce the build-up of harmful proteins that are associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers in Li-Huei Tsai's laboratory at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory of MIT have also shown that disrupted gamma waves in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease can be corrected by a unique non-invasive technique using flickering or pulsing light. The Neuradiant 1070 is the only product available in the market that offers customizable pulsing frequencies at 1070nm.
You can learn more about the specifics of this study and the science behind PBM on this video:
A study published in 2019 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease investigated the effects of PBM on cognitive function in mice with Alzheimer’s-like pathology. The study found that PBM improved cognitive function and reduced the levels of amyloid-beta plaques and tau protein, another hallmark of Alzheimer’s pathology.
Another study published in 2018 in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology investigated the effects of PBM on brain cells in vitro. The study found that PBM increased the production of ATP, reduced oxidative stress, and inflammation in brain cells.
Some studies have also suggested that photobiomodulation (PBM) may promote the growth of new neurons and synapses, which could help to repair damaged brain tissue and improve cognitive function. Clinical trials are currently underway to investigate the safety and efficacy of PBM for the treatment of Alzheimer’s in humans.
In conclusion, photobiomodulation (PBM) offers a promising potential for the treatment of Alzheimer's, and further research is needed to fully understand its therapeutic effects and the mechanisms by which it works.
- Buendía D, Guncay T, Oyanedel M, Lemus M, Weinstein A, Ardiles ÁO, Marcos J, Fernandes A, Zângaro R, Muñoz P. The Transcranial Light Therapy Improves Synaptic Plasticity in the Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model. Brain Sci. 2022 Sep 21;12(10):1272. doi: 10.3390/brainsci12101272. PMID: 36291206; PMCID: PMC9599908. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9599908/
- Lee TL, Ding Z, Chan AS. Can transcranial photobiomodulation improve cognitive function? A systematic review of human studies. Ageing Res Rev. 2023 Jan;83:101786. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2022.101786. Epub 2022 Nov 9. PMID: 36371017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36371017/
- Grillo, S. L., Duggett, N. A., Ennaceur, A., & Chazot, P. L. (2013). Non-invasive infra-red therapy (1072 nm) reduces β-amyloid protein levels in the brain of an Alzheimer's disease mouse model, TASTPM. Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology, 123, 13–22. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23603448/
- Monteiro F, Carvalho Ó, Sousa N, Silva FS, Sotiropoulos I. Photobiomodulation and visual stimulation against cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease pathology: A systematic review. Alzheimers Dement (N Y). 2022 Nov 25;8(1):e12249. doi: 10.1002/trc2.12249. PMID: 36447479; PMCID: PMC9695760. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9695760/
- Vrankic M, Vlahinić S, Šverko Z, Markovinović I. EEG-Validated Photobiomodulation Treatment of Dementia-Case Study. Sensors (Basel). 2022 Oct 5;22(19):7555. doi: 10.3390/s22197555. PMID: 36236654; PMCID: PMC9573554. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9573554/
- Salehpour F, Khademi M, Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation Therapy for Dementia: A Systematic Review of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Studies. J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;83(4):1431-1452. doi: 10.3233/JAD-210029. PMID: 33935090. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33935090/
Continue reading below to learn more about photobiomodulation on a cellular level and understand the difference between wavelength and frequency.