Low-level red laser therapy alters effects of ultraviolet C radiation on Escherichia coli cells

Low-level lasers are used at low power densities and doses according to clinical protocols supplied with laser devices or based on professional practice. Although use of these lasers is increasing in many countries, the molecular mechanisms involved in effects of low-level lasers, mainly on DNA, are controversial. In this study, we evaluated the effects of low-level red lasers on survival, filamentation, and morphology of Escherichia colicells that were exposed to ultraviolet C (UVC) radiation. Exponential and stationary wild-type and uvrA-deficient E. coli cells were exposed to a low-level red laser and in sequence to UVC radiation. Bacterial survival was evaluated to determine the laser protection factor (ratio between the number of viable cells after exposure to the red laser and UVC and the number of viable cells after exposure to UVC). Bacterial filaments were counted to obtain the percentage of filamentation. Area-perimeter ratios were calculated for evaluation of cellular morphology. Experiments were carried out in duplicate and the results are reported as the means of three independent assays. Pre-exposure to a red laser protected wild-type and uvrA-deficient E. coli cells against the lethal effect of UVC radiation, and increased the percentage of filamentation and the area-perimeter ratio, depending on UVC fluence and physiological conditions in the cells. Therapeutic, low-level red laser radiation can induce DNA lesions at a sub-lethal level. Consequences to cells and tissues should be considered when clinical protocols based on this laser are carried out.