Photobiomodulation inside the brain: a novel method of applying near-infrared light intracranially and its impact on dopaminergic cell survival in MPTP-treated mice

Laboratory investigation

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  • 1 CEA-Leti, Grenoble, France; and
  • 2 Departments of Anatomy and Histology and
  • 3 Physiology, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Object

Previous experimental studies have documented the neuroprotection of damaged or diseased cells after applying, from outside the brain, near-infrared light (NIr) to the brain by using external light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or laser devices. In the present study, the authors describe an effective and reliable surgical method of applying to the brain, from inside the brain, NIr to the brain. They developed a novel internal surgical device that delivers the NIr to brain regions very close to target damaged or diseased cells. They suggest that this device will be useful in applying NIr within the large human brain, particularly if the target cells have a very deep location.

Methods

An optical fiber linked to an LED or laser device was surgically implanted into the lateral ventricle of BALB/c mice or Sprague-Dawley rats. The authors explored the feasibility of the internal device, measured the NIr signal through living tissue, looked for evidence of toxicity at doses higher than those required for neuroprotection, and confirmed the neuroprotective effect of NIr on dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) in an acute 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) model of Parkinson disease in mice.

Results

The device was stable in freely moving animals, and the NIr filled the cranial cavity. Measurements showed that the NIr intensity declined as distance from the source increased across the brain (65% per mm) but was detectable up to 10 mm away. At neuroprotective (0.16 mW) and much higher (67 mW) intensities, the NIr caused no observable behavioral deficits, nor was there evidence of tissue necrosis at the fiber tip, where radiation was most intense. Finally, the intracranially delivered NIr protected SNc cells against MPTP insult; there were consistently more dopaminergic cells in MPTP-treated mice irradiated with NIr than in those that were not irradiated.

Conclusions

In summary, the authors showed that NIr can be applied intracranially, does not have toxic side effects, and is neuroprotective.

Abbreviations used in this paper:CPu = caudate-putamen complex; GFAP = glial fibrillary acidic protein; LED = light-emitting diode; MPTP = 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine; NIr = near-infrared light; PBS = phosphate-buffered saline; SNc = substantia nigra pars compacta; TH = tyrosine hydroxylase.

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Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: John Mitrofanis, Ph.D., Department of Anatomy and Histology F13, University of Sydney, Sydney 2006 Australia. email: john.mitrofanis@sydney.edu.au.

Please include this information when citing this paper: published online October 25, 2013; DOI: 10.3171/2013.9.JNS13423.

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