Aging Cell. 2023 Oct 6:e14005. doi: 10.1111/acel.14005. Online ahead of print.
Mitochondrial function declines with age, and many pathological processes in neurodegenerative diseases stem from this dysfunction when mitochondria fail to produce the necessary energy required. Photobiomodulation (PBM), long-wavelength light therapy, has been shown to rescue mitochondrial function in animal models and improve human health, but clinical uptake is limited due to uncertainty around efficacy and the mechanisms responsible. Using 31 P magnetisation transfer magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MT-MRS) we quantify, for the first time, the effects of 670 nm PBM treatment on healthy ageing human brains. We find a significant increase in the rate of ATP synthase flux in the brain after PBM in a cohort of older adults. Our study provides initial evidence of PBM therapeutic efficacy for improving mitochondrial function and restoring ATP flux with age, but recognises that wider studies are now required to confirm any resultant cognitive benefits.