26 September 2023

Light therapy helps prevent Alzheimer's disease

A study has found that light therapy during sleep can help the brain's lymphatic system clear beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease.

A new study has found that light therapy applied to mice during deep sleep enhances the brain's ability to clear beta-amyloid. This is a toxic protein linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease. The finding could lead to a new non-invasive treatment for the disease.

In the new study, scientists used photobiomodulation (PBM), a non-pharmaceutical therapy that uses red light and near-infrared light to stimulate the body to repair itself. There is evidence that PBM causes an increase in metabolism and microcirculation in the brain, in addition to reversing oxidative stress and inflammation. Also, recent studies have shown that PBM can stimulate the brain's lymphatic system to remove waste and toxins.

Scientists already know that the brain's lymphatic system is activated during sleep. Therefore, the researchers tested the effect of PBM during wakefulness and the non-REM phase of (deep) sleep. They injected beta-amyloid into the hippocampus - a brain region associated with memory and learning - of mice after destroying their membrane, which covers and protects the brain and spinal cord, with a laser.

PBM was applied to the mice once a day for seven days using an LED light. By measuring beta-amyloid levels in the hippocampus after PBM, the researchers found that levels of the protein were lower whether they applied the therapy while awake or asleep. However, PBM during sleep resulted in a greater reduction in beta-amyloid. The scientists concluded that PBM stimulated the evacuation of beta-amyloid from the hippocampus more effectively during sleep than during wakefulness.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers of Optoelectronics.
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