The brain’s response to injury

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, then you’ll know the mother of dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, played by actor Emilia Clarke.

What you might not know is that Emilia has had brain injury and brain surgery.

Here’s a wonderful article from The Conversation about brain injury and how the brain responds to injury. The brain’s ability to heal itself is remarkable. Add in red and near infrared lights, and the healing process is stimulated.

The image of Emilia Clarke is reproduced from The Conversation.

Red light’s many ways of working

Don’t discount the indirect effect of red and near infrared light.

I’ve had a number of queries lately about the importance of penetration of red and near infrared light into the brain. The questions stem from an assumption that red and near lights will only be effective if they act directly onto the cell. This assumption isn’t correct. Red light doesn’t rely on just one method to be effective.

Continue reading “Red light’s many ways of working”

Wavelengths matter

A recent article compared the action of visible red 660nm with near-infrared 980nm.

The 660nm wavelength is a very lovely and rich shade of red, very much like the red velvet in Gwen’s photo of theatre curtains. In contrast, the wavelength 980nm is way out of the visible range and our eyes cannot see it at all.

This study showed that both wavelengths stimulated the cells into action through the mitochondria, the powerhouses inside cells. When the 980nm wavelength was used, it quickly stimulated the cell, but the effect died away pretty quickly.

In contrast, the visible red 660nm was slower to get going, but the effect lasted for at least 24 hours.

What does this finding mean?

Remember that mitochondria are like batteries, powering the cell to keep it healthy and active. The longer the mitochondrial batteries remain powered up, the longer the cell will function and – very importantly – the longer it will live.

Visible red 660nm, a rich colour to our eyes, is also a rich source of energy for our cells, and the energy that this wavelength generates will last for well over a day.

There has been interest in the use of longer wavelengths (900-1100nm) for light hats. This research article strongly suggests that it would be better to stick to visible red wavelengths.

Reference:

Fuchs, Christiane, Merle Sophie Schenk, Linh Pham, Lian Cui, Richard Rox Anderson, and Joshua Tam. “Photobiomodulation Response From 660 Nm Is Different and More Durable Than That From 980 Nm.” Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 53, no. 9 (November 1, 2021): 1279–93.

Thanks to Gwen King on Unsplash for the lovely image.

Transcranial lights are the way to go.

Here’s a new journal article from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m a co-author, but don’t let that get in the way.

This article looks at the animal and clinical evidence for the use of transcranial and intracranial red and near infrared light devices. There is a lot of detailed information, including and in-depth description of the effect of transcranial red and near infrared lights in people with Parkinson’s disease.

As for which is best – intracranial or transcranial? The verdict is that neither is best on its own. The best is having both working together. It makes sense, having light shining from inside and outside the brain.

Alas, you might be waiting a while before you get access to an intracranial light implant (think DBS with a 670nm LED light), but you can use transcranial lights right now. You can make your own (instructions are here) or look at the Duo Coronet (link is here) .

Meanwhile, have a read…

Reference

Johnstone DM, Hamilton C, Gordon LC, Moro C, Torres N, Nicklason F, Stone J, Benabid AL, Mitrofanis J. Exploring the Use of Intracranial and Extracranial (Remote) Photobiomodulation Devices in Parkinson’s Disease: A Comparison of Direct and Indirect Systemic Stimulations. J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;83(4):1399-1413. doi: 10.3233/JAD-210052. PMID: 33843683.

Mitochondria have a social-life!

The discoveries about mitochondria continue to grow.

A while back, it became clear that many neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, resulted from the cell batteries, the mitochondria, failing to properly power up the cell. This results in the cell being unable to do its job, for example making dopamine. It also results in the early death of the cell.

In 2019 came the stunning news that mitochondria are nomadic. They pop out of cells, plunge into the bloodstream and whizz around, then get out, metaphorically towel themselves dry and pop back into a different cell – possibly in a completely different part of the body.

This ability raised the question of what controls the mitochondrial migration. There must be some signalling system making this happen. One has visions of King Mito barking out orders to mitochondrial minions, who scurry around with their clipboards and spreadsheets…

The signalling system is the next big thing for scientists to understand. It offers vast opportunities for potential treatments and prevention strategies.

Now comes the news that mitochondria act like social creatures. The cosy up to each other, fuse together, split apart, and appear to communicate with each other. Absolutely fascinating!

Here’s a link to a wonderful article in Qantamagazine. It describes very beautifully the implication of a review paper by Martin Picard and Carmen Sandi, who were the first to describe this new feature of mitochondrial behaviour.

Reference:

Martin Picard, Carmen Sandi,The social nature of mitochondria: Implications for human health,
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 120,
2021,Pages 595-610,ISSN 0149-7634,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.04.017.

Red lights & macular degeneration

Thanks to Sharon for sending me a link to this podcast: The Science of Vision, Eye Health & Seeing Better | Huberman Lab Podcast #24.

Prof Andrew Huberman describes how we see. By this he means how our eyes focus and convert light information into electricity so that the rest of the brain can understand ‘and how our brain creates the incredible thing we experience as “sight”.’

Here’s the link to the podcast.

The part about the effect of red lights on age-related macular degeneration is at about the 1 hour 15 minute mark. All of it is worth listening to, though!

Thanks to Harry Quan on Unsplash for the beautiful image.