How does RLT help?
There are two potential mechanisms in which red light therapy (RLT) may reverse or prevent shrinking of the thymus:
(1.) by inducing melatonin production
(2.) stimulation of bone marrow stem cells that can replenish the thymus
This theory puts forward a compelling hypothesis that RLT can alter thymic shrinking, improve immune functioning in the aging population and even extend lifespan.
Tell Me More...
Degeneration of lymphoid organs associated with the immune system, including the thymus gland, occur as a normal part of aging. Atrophy of the thymus and the subsequent reduction in T-cell production are the most noticeable age-related changes affecting lymphoid organs in the immune system.
The process of thymic involution (shrinking) involves disruption of the histological structure of the thymus and a marked reduction in the production of naïve T cells. These changes can be used as biomarkers of life expectancy. In fact, thymic involution has been described as “programmed aging.” Innovative therapeutic approaches like RLT may reduce or reverse these changes.
It is becoming increasingly clear that stem cells are highly responsive to light, which is profound, Stem cells have the capacity for long-term self-renewal without decaying and the ability to differentiate into one or more specialized cells types, thus providing an inexhaustible supple of cells for tissue repair. Tissue-specific stem cells are found in cavities throughout the body, such as bone marrow, brain, liver and skin.
The stem cell cavity is hypoxic, which allows stem cells to survive for decades without suffering from any oxidative damage. However, when the mitochondria of stem cells absorb light, the cells produce many more mitochondria and must exit their hypoxic nook in search of more oxygen. This means that light delivered to the bone marrow can mobilize stem cells into the circulation where they are exposed to diverse cues in the bloodstream instructing them where to travel to in order to repair tissue that is damaged or risk of dying.
Mitochondria are the main source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), & excessive ROS generation affects neurons in part by damaging their mitochondrial function, thus, accelerating the aging process.
Nevertheless, since the mitochondria are the primary site for red/NIR light-cell interactions, it seems that brain RLT could be the first step towards restoration of oxidative stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction.
ROS has been suggested to be responsible for many aspects of HIV-1 pathogenesis such as increase viral replication, reduced immune cell proliferation, loss of immune function, and sensitivity to drug toxicity and chronic weight loss. RLT can improve the activity of antioxidant enzymes through a photochemical process that accelerates the elimination of ROS.
What does the research show?
"Our recent study showed that LLLT bolstered ATP production and mitochondrial biogenesis in MKs (bone marrow cells)." (1)
"These results suggest that LLLT prevents platelets from apoptosis and prolongs their lifespan in the presence of anti-platelet antibody.” (2)
“Noninvasive whole-body illuminations with the LLT cured acute thrombocytopenia induced by irradiation, chemotherapeutic drug, or anti-CD41 antibody much faster than sham-light treatment.” (3)
**While the current scientific research seems to indicate many positive benefits of RLT in relation to immune system disorders, there is still an appreciable necessity for more extensive research to be conducted in this area, including double-blind RCT (randomized controlled trials), to provide a more comprehensive, robust overview that will further elucidate the optimal parameters & appropriate uses of RLT, which will ultimately lead to the most safe & efficacious uses for individuals dealing with depressed immune systems.