Researchers revealed extra benefits from the combination of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) with exercise in a mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and published their results in Lasers in Medical Science.

The researchers found increases in muscle strength and utrophin levels and reductions in muscle degeneration and inflammation as a result of the combined treatment.

“It was observed that mdx mice treated with LLLT worked longer on the treadmill during high-intensity exercise and the redox status improved, that is, muscle fatigue was delayed in these animals,” the authors said. “This result suggests that LLLT could be used as a new and promising therapeutic agent in the treatment of DMD symptoms and may be effective against the possible side effects of exercise.”

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Twenty mdx mice were divided into 4 groups of 5 mice each: 1) sedentary + placebo LLLT (controls), 2) sedentary + LLLT, 3) 30-min swimming exercise 3 times per week, and 4) 30-min swimming exercise 3 times per week + LLLT. The results showed that in the sedentary + LLLT group, only irisin levels increased compared to the controls.

In groups 3 and 4, the research team found improved heart muscle histopathology, total oxidant capacity, and irisin levels along with reduced cardiomyocyte diameter. In group 4, with both exercise and LLLT, the mice also had increased utrophin levels and rotarod duration, as well as improved skeletal and diaphragmatic muscle histopathology.

LLLT is suspected to act by stimulating photochemical and photophysical activities in the mitochondria of cells, as well as increasing mitochondrial membrane potential in muscle and respiratory chain enzymatic activity. The authors are encouraged by the results of this very new approach to managing skeletal muscle fatigue and recovery, and they recommend additional studies to further expand our understanding of its potential application in human patients with DMD.


Arıkan S, Alaca N, Özbeyli D, Elmas MA, Arbak S, Suyen G. Effects of moderate aerobic exercise, low-level laser therapy, or their combination on muscles pathology, oxidative stress and irisin levels in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Lasers Med Sci. Published online April 19, 2022. doi:10.1007/s10103-022-03562-8