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Placing stem cells in the spotlight

During Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) pulsating light from LEDs is applied on cells or tissues. Already in clinical use for treating chronic wounds, it might also offer a new approach for the activation of freshly isolated stem cells from human adipose tissue. Peter Dungel and his team from the LBI Trauma were able to demonstrate that light therapy increases the cells’ regenerative potential. Their study has recently been published in the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

The researchers treated the stem cells from the SVF (stromal vascular fraction, a component of the adipose tissue extracted during liposuction) with pulsating blue (475 nm), green (516 nm) or red (635 nm) light from applicators designed and manufactured by Repuls, a company that resulted from research conducted at the TU Vienna. Subsequently the cells were subjected to a broad variety of tests to examine any changes induced by the LLLT.

The results demonstrate that a single LLLT is enough to influence the cells positively. After exposure to red or green light the capacity to form new vascular structures was enhances. Red light lead to stronger proliferation compared to untreated cells. Both characteristics – vascularization and proliferation – are essential for tissue regeneration, e.g. during wound healing. Thus LLLT poses a promising therapeutic approach for activating the regenerative potential of freshly isolated stem cells, preparing them for clinical application in a one-step procedure.