Photobiomodulation reduces hippocampal apoptotic cell death and produces a Raman spectroscopic “signature”

David James Davies, Mohammed Hadis, Valentina Di Pietro, Giuseppe Lazzarino, Mario Forcione, Georgia Harris, Andrew Stevens, Wai Cheong Soon, Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer, Michael Milward, Tony Belli, Will Palin

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Apoptotic cell death within the brain represents a significant contributing factor to impaired post-traumatic tissue function and poor clinical outcome after traumatic brain injury. After irradiation with light in the wavelength range of 600–1200 nm (photobiomodulation), previous investigations have reported a reduction in apoptosis in various tissues. This study investigates the effect of 660 nm photobiomodulation on organotypic slice cultured hippocampal tissue of rats, examining the effect on apoptotic cell loss. Tissue optical Raman spectroscopic changes were evaluated. A significantly higher proportion of apoptotic cells 62.8±12.2% vs 48.6±13.7% (P<0.0001) per region were observed in the control group compared with the photobiomodulation group. After photobiomodulation, Raman spectroscopic observations demonstrated 1440/1660 cm-1 spectral shift. Photobiomodulation has the potential for therapeutic utility, reducing cell loss to apoptosis in injured neurological tissue, as demonstrated in this in vitro model. A clear Raman spectroscopic signal was observed after apparent optimal irradiation, potentially integrable into therapeutic light delivery apparatus for real-time dose metering.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0264533
JournalPLOS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Davies et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Brain
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic/metabolism
  • Hippocampus/metabolism
  • Low-Level Light Therapy/methods
  • Rats
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman


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