Infrared light for possible treatment of neuroinflammatory diseases

According to a recent MedGadget post, a Colorado-based company Clarimedix has developed a BandAid-looking device that can be attached on the neck’s skin and emits infrared light onto the carotid artery. The device is being evaluated for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The company’s website provides scant scientific explanation for its therapeutic action indicating just that light modulates the production of nitric oxide (NO) in the brain . To expand on their rationale, I examined recent literature on this subject and sketched the diagram (see the image) illustrating the hypothetical mechanism of device’s action. According to one recent review, NO has two opposing effects on neurons. On one hand, NO is involved in neuroprotection by activating the Akt, Bcl-2, and MAP kinase survival pathways. On the other hand, NO inhibits mitochondrial respiration (by blocking the activity of cytochrome c oxidase), therefore depleting neurons of energy and ultimately leading to their inflammation and death. The harmful effect of NO on mitochondrial respiration can be reversed by light, at least in vitro. So, by illuminating the carotid artery, the Clarimedix device modulates the NO release and possibly helps to suppress the progression of neuroinflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis,  Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The evidence for its therapeutic action is very weak at the moment but non-invasive nature of the therapy will hopefully allow for a quick and inexpensive clinical trial.