Transcranial near-infrared laser transmission (NILT) profiles (800 nm): Systematic comparison in four common research species

Paul A. Lapchak, Paul D. Boitano, Pramod V. Butte, David J. Fisher, Thilo Hölscher, Eric J. Ley, Miriam A Nuno, Arne H. Voie, Padmesh S. Rajput

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose Transcranial near-infrared laser therapy (TLT) is a promising and novel method to promote neuroprotection and clinical improvement in both acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as acute ischemic stroke (AIS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients based upon efficacy in translational animal models. However, there is limited information in the peer-reviewed literature pertaining to transcranial near-infrared laser transmission (NILT) profiles in various species. Thus, in the present study we systematically evaluated NILT characteristics through the skull of 4 different species: mouse, rat, rabbit and human. Results Using dehydrated skulls from 3 animal species, using a wavelength of 800nm and a surface power density of 700 mW/cm2, NILT decreased from 40.10% (mouse) to 21.24% (rat) to 11.36% (rabbit) as skull thickness measured at bregma increased from 0.44 mm in mouse to 0.83 mm in rat and then 2.11 mm in rabbit. NILT also significantly increased (p<0.05) when animal skulls were hydrated (i.e. compared to dehydrated); but there was no measurable change in thickness due to hydration. In human calvaria, where mean thickness ranged from 7.19 mm at bregma to 5.91 mm in the parietal skull, only 4.18% and 4.24% of applied near-infrared light was transmitted through the skull. There was a slight (9.2-13.4%), but insignificant effect of hydration state on NILT transmission of human skulls, but there was a significant positive correlation between NILT and thickness at bregma and parietal skull, in both hydrated and dehydrated states. Conclusion This is the first systematic study to demonstrate differential NILT through the skulls of 4 different species; with an inverse relationship between NILT and skull thickness. With animal skulls, transmission profiles are dependent upon the hydration state of the skull, with significantly greater penetration through hydrated skulls compared to dehydrated skulls. Using human skulls, we demonstrate a significant correlation between thickness and penetration, but there was no correlation with skull density. The results suggest that TLT should be optimized in animals using novel approaches incorporating human skull characteristics, because of significant variance of NILT profiles directly related to skull thickness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0127580
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 3 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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