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J Pharmacol Sci. 2013;123(3):209-18. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Protective effects of a dietary carotenoid, astaxanthin, against light-induced retinal damage.

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Molecular Pharmacology, Department of Biofunctional Evaluation, Gifu Pharmaceutical University, Japan.


Dietary carotenoids exhibit various biological activities, including antioxidative activity. In particular, astaxanthin, a type of carotenoid, is well known as a powerful antioxidant. We investigated whether astaxanthin would protect against light-induced retinal damage. In an in vivo study, ddY male mice were exposed to white light at 8,000 lux for 3 h to induce retinal damage. Five days after light exposure, retinal damage was evaluated by measuring electroretinogram (ERG) amplitude and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness. Furthermore, expression of apoptotic cells, 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), was measured. In an in vitro study, retinal damage was induced by white light exposure at 2,500 lux for 24 h, and propidium iodide (PI)-positive cells was measured and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) activity was examined. Astaxanthin at 100 mg/kg inhibited the retinal dysfunction in terms of ERG and ONL loss and reduced the expression of apoptotic and 8-OHdG-positive cells induced by light exposure. Furthermore, astaxanthin protected against increases of PI-positive cells and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) activity in 661W cells. These findings suggest that astaxanthin has protective effects against light-induced retinal damage via the mechanism of its antioxidative effect.

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