Melinda Fitzgerald, Stuart Hodgetts, Corinna Van Den Heuvel, Riccardo Natoli, Nathan S. Hart, Krisztina Valter, Alan R. Harvey, Robert Vink, Jan Provis, Sarah A. Dunlop
March 15, 2013
Irradiation in the red/near-infrared spectrum (R/NIR, 630–1000 nm) has been used to treat a wide range of clinical conditions, including disorders of the central nervous system (CNS), with several clinical trials currently underway for stroke and macular degeneration. However, R/NIR irradiation therapy (R/NIR-IT) has not been widely adopted in clinical practice for CNS injury or disease for a number of reasons, which include the following. The mechanism/s of action and implications of penetration have not been thoroughly addressed. The large range of treatment intensities, wavelengths and devices that have been assessed make comparisons difficult, and a consensus paradigm for treatment has not yet emerged. Furthermore, the lack of consistent positive outcomes in randomised controlled trials, perhaps due to sub-optimal treatment regimens, has contributed to scepticism. This review provides a balanced précis of outcomes described in the literature regarding treatment modalities and efficacy of R/NIR-IT for injury and disease in the CNS. We have addressed the important issues of specification of treatment parameters, penetration of R/NIR irradiation to CNS tissues and mechanism/s, and provided the necessary detail to demonstrate the potential of R/NIR-IT for the treatment of retinal degeneration, damage to white matter tracts of the CNS, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.