Photophysical Mechanisms of Photobiomodulation Therapy as Precision Medicine

Ann Liebert, William Capon, Vincent Pang, Damien Vila, Brian Bicknell, Craig McLachlan, Hosen Kiat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Despite a significant focus on the photochemical and photoelectrical mechanisms underlying photobiomodulation (PBM), its complex functions are yet to be fully elucidated. To date, there has been limited attention to the photophysical aspects of PBM. One effect of photobiomodulation relates to the non-visual phototransduction pathway, which involves mechanotransduction and modulation to cytoskeletal structures, biophotonic signaling, and micro-oscillatory cellular interactions. Herein, we propose a number of mechanisms of PBM that do not depend on cytochrome c oxidase. These include the photophysical aspects of PBM and the interactions with biophotons and mechanotransductive processes. These hypotheses are contingent on the effect of light on ion channels and the cytoskeleton, the production of biophotons, and the properties of light and biological molecules. Specifically, the processes we review are supported by the resonant recognition model (RRM). This previous research demonstrated that protein micro-oscillations act as a signature of their function that can be activated by resonant wavelengths of light. We extend this work by exploring the local oscillatory interactions of proteins and light because they may affect global body circuits and could explain the observed effect of PBM on neuro-cortical electroencephalogram (EEG) oscillations. In particular, since dysrhythmic gamma oscillations are associated with neurodegenerative diseases and pain syndromes, including migraine with aura and fibromyalgia, we suggest that transcranial PBM should target diseases where patients are affected by impaired neural oscillations and aberrant brain wave patterns. This review also highlights examples of disorders potentially treatable with precise wavelengths of light by mimicking protein activity in other tissues, such as the liver, with, for example, Crigler-Najjar syndrome and conditions involving the dysregulation of the cytoskeleton. PBM as a novel therapeutic modality may thus behave as “precision medicine” for the treatment of various neurological diseases and other morbidities. The perspectives presented herein offer a new understanding of the photophysical effects of PBM, which is important when considering the relevance of PBM therapy (PBMt) in clinical applications, including the treatment of diseases and the optimization of health outcomes and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number237
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • mechanotransduction
  • oscillations
  • photobiomodulation
  • photophysical
  • precision medicine
  • resonant recognition model


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