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Effects of low-level laser therapy on cartilage repair in an experimental model of osteoarthritis

Auswirkungen der Low-Level-Lasertherapie auf die Knorpelreparatur in einem experimentellen Osteoarthritis-Modell
  • Anderson Amaro dos Santos , Poliani Oliveira , Kelly Rossetti Fernandes , Lara Rhon , Carla Roberta Tim , Fernando Augusto Vasilceac , Karina Nogueira Zambone Pinto , Stela Marcia Mattiello , Nivaldo Antonio Parizotto and Ana Claudia Muniz Renno EMAIL logo



The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of low level laser therapy (LLLT) on the degenerative process in the articular cartilage after an anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) model in rats.


Eighty male rats (Wistar) were divided into four groups: 1.) intact control group (CG), 2.) injured control group (ICG), 3.) injured laser-treated group at 10 J/cm2 (L10) and 4.) injured laser-treated group at 50 J/cm2 (L50). Animals were divided into 2 subgroups, with different periods of sacrifice (5 and 8 weeks post-surgery). The ACLT was used to induce osteoarthritis (OA) in the knees of the rats. LLLT started 2 weeks after the surgery and it was performed for 15 and 30 sessions, respectively using a 685-nm laser, at 10 and 50 J/cm2. Qualitative and semi-quantitative histologic, morphometric and immunohistochemistry analyses were performed.


Initial signs of tissue degradation could be observed 5 weeks post-ACLT, evidenced by the decrease of proteoglycan concentration and increase in cartilage thickness of the ICG. After 8 weeks post-surgery, analysis showed a progression of the degenerative processes in the ICG revealed by the increased cellularity and higher TNF-α, IL1-β and MMP-13 immunoexpression. LLLT was able to modulate some of the aspects relating to the degradative process, such as biomodulation of the number of chondrocyte proliferation, prevention of proteoglycan loss, and decrease of MMP-13 immunoexpression.


This study showed that the 685-nm laser irradiation, especially at 10 J/cm2, prevented features related to the articular degenerative process in the knees of rats.



Das Ziel dieser Studie war es, die Effekte der Low-Level-Lasertherapie (LLLT) auf den degenerativen Prozess im Gelenkknorpel von Ratten nach vorderer Kreuzbanddurchtrennung zu evaluieren.


Achtzig männliche Wistar-Ratten wurden in vier Versuchsgruppen unterteilt: 1.) intakte Kontrollgruppe (CG), 2.) verletzte Kontrollgruppe (ICG), 3.) verletzte Laser-behandelte Gruppe bei 10 J/cm2 (L10) und 4.) verletzte Laser-behandelte Gruppe bei 50 J/cm2 (L50). Die Tiere wurden in zwei Untergruppen aufgeteilt und entweder 5 oder 8 Wochen nach der Operation eingeschläfert. Die vordere Kreuzbanddurchtrennung wurde verwendet, um in den Kniegelenken der Ratten Osteoarthritis (OA) zu induzieren. Die LLLT begann 2 Wochen nach der Operation und wurde für 15 bzw. 30 Sitzungen bei 10 und 50 J/cm2 mit einem 685 nm-Laser durchgeführt. Qualitative und semi-quantitative histologische, morphometrische und immunhistochemische Analysen wurden durchgeführt.


Erste Anzeichen von Gewebeabbau wurden 5 Wochen nach der vorderen Kreuzbanddurchtrennung beobachtet und durch die Abnahme der Proteoglycan-Konzentration und die Erhöhung der Knorpeldicke in der verletzten Kontrollgruppe (ICG) belegt. Acht Wochen nach der Operation zeigte sich in der ICG ein Fortschreiten der degenerativen Prozesse durch eine erhöhte Zellularität und eine höhere TNF-α-, IL1-β- und MMP-13-Immunexpression. Mittels LLLT war es möglich, einige der mit dem Abbauprozess in Zusammenhang stehenden Aspekte, wie die Proliferationsrate der Chondrozyten, die Vermeidung des Proteoglycan-Verlustes und die Abnahme der MMP-13-Immunexpression zu modulieren.


Die vorliegende Studie hat gezeigt, dass eine 685 nm-Laserbestrahlung vor allem bei 10 J/cm2, Vorgänge verhindern kann, die zu degenerativen Prozessen in den Kniegelenken von Ratten führen.

Corresponding author: Ana Claudia Muniz Renno, Department of Bioscience, Federal University of São Paulo, Av. Ana Costa, 95, Santos, São Paulo, 11060-001, Brazil, e-mail:


We thank to Brazilian funding agencies FAPESP and CNPq for the financial support of this research (grant number: FAPESP-2010-16822-5).

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have no competing financial interests.


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Received: 2013-12-17
Revised: 2014-3-12
Accepted: 2014-3-25
Published Online: 2014-4-16
Published in Print: 2014-8-1

©2014 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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