Nano-Pulsed Laser Therapy Is Neuroprotective in a Rat Model of Blast-Induced Neurotrauma

Rinat O. Esenaliev, Irene Y. Petrov, Yuriy Petrov, Jutatip Guptarak, Debbie R. Boone, Emanuele Mocciaro, Harris Weisz, Margaret A. Parsley, Stacy Sell, Helen Hellmich, Jonathan M. Ford, Connor Pogue, Douglas Dewitt, Donald S. Prough, Maria Adelaide Micci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We have developed a novel, non-invasive nano-pulsed laser therapy (NPLT) system that combines the benefits of near-infrared laser light (808 nm) and ultrasound (optoacoustic) waves, which are generated with each short laser pulse within the tissue. We tested NPLT in a rat model of blast-induced neurotrauma (BINT) to determine whether transcranial application of NPLT provides neuroprotective effects. The laser pulses were applied on the intact rat head 1 h after injury using a specially developed fiber-optic system. Vestibulomotor function was assessed on post-injury days (PIDs) 1-3 on the beam balance and beam walking tasks. Cognitive function was assessed on PIDs 6-10 using a working memory Morris water maze (MWM) test. BDNF and caspase-3 messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was measured by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) in laser-captured cortical neurons. Microglia activation and neuronal injury were assessed in brain sections by immunofluorescence using specific antibodies against CD68 and active caspase-3, respectively. In the vestibulomotor and cognitive (MWM) tests, NPLT-treated animals performed significantly better than the untreated blast group and similarly to sham animals. NPLT upregulated mRNA encoding BDNF and downregulated the pro-apoptotic protein caspase-3 in cortical neurons. Immunofluorescence demonstrated that NPLT inhibited microglia activation and reduced the number of cortical neurons expressing activated caspase-3. NPLT also increased expression of BDNF in the hippocampus and the number of proliferating progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus. Our data demonstrate a neuroprotective effect of NPLT and prompt further studies aimed to develop NPLT as a therapeutic intervention after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1510-1522
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Blast injury
  • Near-infrared light
  • Neuro protection
  • Non-invasive transcranial laser therapy
  • Optoacoustics
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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