The plasticity and proliferative capacity of stem cells decrease with aging, compromising their tissue regenerative potential and therapeutic applications. This decline is directly linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. Here, we present an effective strategy to reverse aging of mouse bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) by restoring their mitochondrial functionality using photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy. Following the characterization of young and aged MSCs, our results show that a near-infrared PBM treatment delivering 3 J/cm2 is the most effective modality for improving mitochondrial functionality and aging markers. Furthermore, our results unveil that young and aged MSCs respond differently to the same modality of PBM: whereas the beneficial effect of a single PBM treatment dissipates within 7 h in aged stem cells, it is lasting in young ones. Nevertheless, by applying three consecutive treatments at 24-h intervals, we were able to obtain a lasting rejuvenating effect on aged MSCs. Our findings are of particular significance for improving autologous stem cell transplantation in older individuals who need such therapies most.
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