Near-Infrared Transcranial Radiation for Major Depressive Disorder: Proof of Concept Study. Citation: (Cassano 2015)

Paolo Cassano at the Massachusetts General Hospital Depression Clinical & Research Program in Boston, and respective colleagues at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, LiteCure LLC, and Mount Sinai Hospital, have registered and completed a pilot study with to confirm and extend preliminary data on Transcranial near-infrared radiation (NIR) is an innovative treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). In a double-blind, randomized study of 6 sessions of NIR versus sham treatment on four patients with MDD, using a crossover design, the team investigated tolerability and efficacy of NIR in patients with MDD. Results showed post-treatment depression ratings were significantly reduced from baseline in the four MDD subjects, the treatment was well tolerated, and time to remission was consistent with other antidepressant treatments (6-7 weeks). 

Laser is used to non-invasively deliver energy to cytochrome c oxidase. This stimulation of a key mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme (COMPLEX IV, electron transfer chain) leads to increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production [1-3]. While several NIR wavelengths have been shown to benefit neuronal cell cultures, the most effective ones (830nm, 670 nm) paralleled the NIR and red action spectra of oxidized cytochrome c oxidase [4]. Data suggest that coherent red light (670 nm diode laser) protects the viability of cell culture after oxidative stress, as indicated by increased mitochondrial membrane potentials [5]. NIR also stimulates neurite out- growth mediated by nerve growth factor, and this effect could also have positive implications for axonal protection [5]. Neuroprotective effects of incoherent red light, 670 nm light.

See the full journal article at Hindawi


P. Cassano, C. Cusin, D. Mischoulon, et al., “Near-infrared transcranial
radiation for major depressive disorder: Proof of concept study,” Psychiatry
Journal, vol. 2015, 2015.

The Canadian Institute of Auricular Medicine offers courses covering Low-level Laser Therapy (LLLT) as well training in patient assessments for the most effective laser frequencies and points for treatment. 


[1] W. Yu, J. O. Naim, M. McGowan, K. Ippolito, and R. J. Lanzafame, “Photomodulation of oxidative metabolism and electron chain enzymes in rat liver mitochondria,” Photochem- istry and Photobiology, vol. 66, no. 6, pp. 866–871, 1997.

[2] N. Mochizuki-Oda, Y. Kataoka, Y. Cui, H. Yamada, M. Heya, and K. Awazu, “Effects of near-infra-red laser irradiation on adenosine triphosphate and adenosine diphosphate contents of rat brain tissue,” Neuroscience Letters, vol. 323, no. 3, pp. 207– 210, 2002.

[3] U.Oron,S.Ilic,L.DeTaboada,andJ.Streeter,“Ga-As(808nm) laser irradiation enhances ATP production in human neuronal cells in culture,” Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 180–182, 2007.

[4] M. T. T. Wong-Riley, H. L. Liang, J. T. Eells et al., “Photo- biomodulation directly benefits primary neurons functionally inactivated by toxins: role of cytochrome c oxidase,” Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 280, no. 6, pp. 4761–4771, 2005.

[5] A. Giuliani, L. Lorenzini, M. Gallamini, A. Massella, L. Gia- rdino, and L. Calza`, “Low infra red laser light irradiation on cultured neural cells: effects on mitochondria and cell viability after oxidative stress,” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 9, article 8, 2009.

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