VIDEO: Transcranial Photobiomodulation for Depression Treatment

Posted On: July 17th, 2018

Paolo Cassano, MD, PhD and Margaret Naeser, PhD, LAc

VIDEO: Transcranial Photobiomodulation for Depression Treatment

Invisible Light! Can the Treatment of Depression Be Beyond What is Seen?

Presenter: Paolo Cassano, MD, PhD

Transcranial photobiomodulation (t-PBM) with invisible near-infrared radiation (NIR) has emerged as a potential antidepressant treatment in both animal models and human studies. t-PBM consists of delivering NIR ─or red light─ to the scalp of the patient, which penetrates the skull and modulates function of the adjacent cortical areas of the brain. t-PBM with red light and/or NIR appears to increase brain metabolism (by activating the cytochrome C oxidase in the mitochondria), to increase neuroplasticity, and to modulate endogenous opioids, while decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress. t-PBM penetrates deeply into the cerebral cortex, modulates cortical excitability and improves cerebral perfusion and oxygenation. Studies have suggested that it can significantly improve cognition in healthy subjects, and in subjects with traumatic brain injury. The safety of t-PBM has been studied in a sample of acute 1,410 stroke patients, with no significant differences in rates of adverse events between t-PBM and sham exposure. Uncontrolled studies suggest an antidepressant effect of t-PBM in subjects suffering from major depressive disorder. A case on the use of t-PBM for the treatment of major depressive disorder was presented, with discussion of evidence from a recent clinical trial.

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