Mitochondria as a target for neuroprotection: Role of methylene blue and photobiomodulation

Luodan Yang, Hannah Youngblood, Chongyun Wu, Quanguang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial dysfunction plays a central role in the formation of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, which are important factors contributing to the development of brain disease. Ample evidence suggests mitochondria are a promising target for neuroprotection. Recently, methods targeting mitochondria have been considered as potential approaches for treatment of brain disease through the inhibition of inflammation and oxidative injury. This review will discuss two widely studied approaches for the improvement of brain mitochondrial respiration, methylene blue (MB) and photobiomodulation (PBM). MB is a widely studied drug with potential beneficial effects in animal models of brain disease, as well as limited human studies. Similarly, PBM is a non-invasive treatment that promotes energy production and reduces both oxidative stress and inflammation, and has garnered increasing attention in recent years. MB and PBM have similar beneficial effects on mitochondrial function, oxidative damage, inflammation, and subsequent behavioral symptoms. However, the mechanisms underlying the energy enhancing, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects of MB and PBM differ. This review will focus on mitochondrial dysfunction in several different brain diseases and the pathological improvements following MB and PBM treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalTranslational Neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Methylene blue
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Neuroprotection
  • Photobiomodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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