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Transcranial Photobiomodulation For The Management Of Depression: Current Perspectives

Authors Askalsky P, Iosifescu DV

Received 4 July 2019

Accepted for publication 26 October 2019

Published 22 November 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 3255—3272

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S188906

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Melinda Thomas

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Paula Askalsky,1 Dan V Iosifescu1,2

1Department of Psychiatry, NYU Langone School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; 2Clinical Research Division, Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY, USA

Correspondence: Dan V Iosifescu
Department of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, One Park Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10016, USA
Tel +1 646-754-5156
Email Dan.Iosifescu@nyumc.org

Abstract: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a prevalent condition associated with high rates of disability, as well as suicidal ideation and behavior. Current treatments for MDD have significant limitations in efficacy and side effect burden. FDA-approved devices for MDD are burdensome (due to repeated in-office procedures) and are most suitable for severely ill subjects. There is a critical need for device-based treatments in MDD that are efficacious, well-tolerated, and easy to use. In this paper, we review a novel neuromodulation strategy, transcranial photobiomodulation (t-PBM) with near-infrared light (NIR). The scope of our review includes the known biological mechanisms of t-PBM, as well as its efficacy in animal models of depression and in patients with MDD. Theoretically, t-PBM penetrates into the cerebral cortex, stimulating the mitochondrial respiratory chain, and also significantly increases cerebral blood flow. Animal and human studies, using a variety of t-PBM settings and experimental models, suggest that t-PBM may have significant efficacy and good tolerability in MDD. In aggregate, these data support the need for large confirmatory studies for t-PBM as a novel, likely safe, and easy-to-administer antidepressant treatment.

Keywords: low-level light therapy, photobiomodulation, near infrared radiation, major depressive disorder, depression

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