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Effect of astaxanthin on retinal pigment epithelial cells in high glucose: an in-vitro study

Background: Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is now reported to be a leading cause of blindness in working age adults. The pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy remains to be elucidated. Previous studies have reported that the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) cells were important for maintaining the visual system. The activated RPE cells can initiate proliferation and migration and secrete extracellular matrix molecules in diseases such as PDR. Besides, oxidative stress is reported to be one of the key progresses of the development of DR. Astaxanthin (ATX) is a carotenoid that is abundant in fishery products and is reported to have various beneficial bioactive properties for human and animal health. This study would provide the possible application of ATX on the treatment of DC.

Material and Method: In the present study, we evaluated the capacity of ATX (Sigma Chemical Company, St. Louis, MO, USA) in preventing high glucose induced abnormal activation and oxidative stress in human PRE cell. The in vitro culture with high glucose for 72 h was used to mimic the diabetic condition. ROS level was detected by ROS Fluorescent Probe-DHE. The control group was normal culture of RPE in high-glucose status.

Results: This is the first time to our knowledge that ATX in 50 μM pre-treatment can protect RPE cells from abnormal activation and oxidative stress induced by high glucose. The use of ATX could decrease the concentration of VEGF. It could be inferred that the protective effect might be conducted via the VEGF and its relative pathways.

Conclusions: We demonstrated that ATX could reduce the abnormal proliferation and oxidative stress induced by high glucose. The results extended our understandings on the molecular mechanisms of ATX inhibiting proliferation and oxidative stress in DR. ATX may be a potent inhibitor of VEGF and may be developed as a chemotherapeutic agent for DR therapeutics in the future.

Author(s): Desheng Fu, Xiaofeng Tian