This study investigated the effects of diode (GaAlAs) laser irradiation at an effective energy density of 5 or 20 J/cm(2) on cell growth factor-induced differentiation and proliferation in pheochromocytoma cells (PC12 cells), and whether those effects were related to activation of the p38 pathway. Laser irradiation at 20 J/cm(2) significantly decreased the number of PC12 cells, while no difference was seen between the 5 J/cm(2) group and the control group (p<0.05). Western blotting revealed marked expression of neurofilament and β-tubulin, indicating greater neurite differentiation in the irradiation groups than in the control group at 48 hr. Irradiation also enhanced expression of phospho-p38. The decrease in number of cells after laser irradiation was accelerated by p38 inhibitor, while neurite differentiation was up-regulated by laser irradiation, even when the p38 pathway was blocked. This suggests that laser irradiation up-regulated neurite differentiation in PC12 cells involving p38 and another pathway.
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