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Papers of the Week

Papers: 20 Jun 2020 - 26 Jun 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Jun 18

J Neurotrauma

Red-light (670 nm) therapy reduces mechanical sensitivity and neuronal cell death, and alters glial responses following spinal cord injury in rats.


Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) often develop debilitating neuropathic pain, which may be driven by neuronal damage and neuroinflammation. We have previously demonstrated that treatment using 670 nm (red) light irradiation alters microglia/macrophage responses and alleviates mechanical hypersensitivity at 7-days post-injury. Here, we investigated the effect of red-light on the development of mechanical hypersensitivity, neuronal markers, and glial response in the subacute stage (days 1-7) following SCI. Wistar rats were subjected to a mild T10 hemi-contusion SCI or sham surgery followed by daily red-light treatment (30 min/day; 670 nm LED; 35 mW/cm2) or sham treatment. Mechanical sensitivity of the rat dorsum was assessed from 1-day post-injury and repeated every second day. Spinal cords were collected at 1, 3, 5 and 7-days post injury for analysis of myelination, neurofilament protein NF200 expression, neuronal cell death, reactive astrocytes (GFAP+ cells), interleukin1β (IL1β) expression, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) production in IBA1+ microglia/macrophages. Red-light treatment significantly reduced the cumulative mechanical sensitivity and the hypersensitivity incidence following SCI. This effect was accompanied by significantly reduced neuronal cell death, reduced astrocyte activation and reduced iNOS expression in IBA1+ cells at the level of the injury. However, myelin and NF200 immunoreactivity and IL1β expression in GFAP+ and IBA1+ cells were not altered by red-light treatment. Thus, red-light therapy may represent a useful non-pharmacological approach for treating pain during the subacute period after SCI by decreasing neuronal loss and modulating the inflammatory glial response.