Long-lasting antinociceptive effects of green light in acute and chronic pain in rats.

TitleLong-lasting antinociceptive effects of green light in acute and chronic pain in rats.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsIbrahim MM, Patwardhan A, Gilbraith KB, Moutal A, Yang X, Chew LA, Largent-Milnes T, T Malan P, Vanderah TW, Porreca F, Khanna R
Date Published2017 Feb

Treatments for chronic pain are inadequate, and new options are needed. Nonpharmaceutical approaches are especially attractive with many potential advantages including safety. Light therapy has been suggested to be beneficial in certain medical conditions such as depression, but this approach remains to be explored for modulation of pain. We investigated the effects of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), in the visible spectrum, on acute sensory thresholds in naive rats as well as in experimental neuropathic pain. Rats receiving green LED light (wavelength 525 nm, 8 h/d) showed significantly increased paw withdrawal latency to a noxious thermal stimulus; this antinociceptive effect persisted for 4 days after termination of last exposure without development of tolerance. No apparent side effects were noted and motor performance was not impaired. Despite LED exposure, opaque contact lenses prevented antinociception. Rats fitted with green contact lenses exposed to room light exhibited antinociception arguing for a role of the visual system. Antinociception was not due to stress/anxiety but likely due to increased enkephalins expression in the spinal cord. Naloxone reversed the antinociception, suggesting involvement of central opioid circuits. Rostral ventromedial medulla inactivation prevented expression of light-induced antinociception suggesting engagement of descending inhibition. Green LED exposure also reversed thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia in rats with spinal nerve ligation. Pharmacological and proteomic profiling of dorsal root ganglion neurons from green LED-exposed rats identified changes in calcium channel activity, including a decrease in the N-type (CaV2.2) channel, a primary analgesic target. Thus, green LED therapy may represent a novel, nonpharmacological approach for managing pain.

Alternate JournalPain
PubMed ID28092651
PubMed Central IDPMC5242385
Grant ListK02 DA018717 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States
R01 DA034975 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States
Faculty Member Reference: 
Mohab M. Ibrahim, PhD, MD
Tally Largent-Milnes, PhD
T. Philip Malan, PhD, MD
Frank Porreca, PhD
Todd Vanderah, PhD