A possible mechanism for visible light-induced wound healing

Anat Lipovsky, Yeshayahu Nitzan, Rachel Lubart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Chronic wounds resistant to conventional therapy have been treated successfully with low energy lasers and light emitting diodes (LEDs) in the visible and near IR region. It has been proposed that production of low level reactive oxygen species (ROS) following illumination is the first step of photobiomodulation. It was also shown that white light (400-800 nm) has similar stimulatory effects as lasers and LEDs. ROS at higher levels are toxic to cells and bacteria. Study Design/Materials and Methods: In the present study, we examined the phototoxicity of broadband (400-800 nm, 120 J/cm2) visible light on the survival of several pathogenic bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus 195, Pseudomonas aeruginosa 1316, Escherichia coli 1313, and Serratia marcescens. These bacteria were chosen due to their high prevalence in infected wounds. The survival of bacterial cells following illumination was monitored by counting the number of colony forming units before and after exposure to light. Results: Illumination with white light, 120 J/cm2, caused a reduction of 62%, 83%, and 56% in the colony count of E. coli 1313, S. aureus 195 and S. marcescens, respectively, though no reduction in the viability of P. aeruginosa 1316 was demonstrated. The phototoxic effect was found to involve induction of ROS production by the bacteria. It was also found that illumination of S. aureus 195 and E. coli 1313 in the presence of pyocyanin, known to be secreted by P. aeruginosa, had a stronger bactericidal effect compared to illumination alone. Conclusion: Visible light at high intensity can kill bacteria in infected wounds. Thus, illumination of infected wounds with intense visible light, prior to low intensity illumination for stimulating wound closure, may reduce infection and promote healing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-514
Number of pages6
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Bacterial infections
  • Illumination
  • ROS
  • Wound healing


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