Potentiation of intraocular absorption and drug metabolism of N-acetylcarnosine lubricant eye drops: drug interaction with sight threatening lipid peroxides in the treatment for age-related eye diseases

Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 2009;24(2-4):275-323. doi: 10.1515/dmdi.2009.24.2-4.275.


Cataract is the dominant cause of blindness worldwide. Studies of the morphological structure and biophysical changes of the lens in human senile cataracts have demonstrated the disappearance of normal fiber structure in the opaque region of the lens and the disintegration of the lens fiber plasma membrane in the lens tissue. Morphological and biochemical techniques have revealed the regions in human cataractous lenses in which the plasma membrane derangement occurs as the primary light scattering centers which cause the observed lens opacity. Human cataract formation is mostly considered to be a multifactorial disease; however, oxidative stress might be one of the leading causes for both nuclear and cortical cataract. Phospholipid molecules modified with oxygen, accumulating in the lipid bilayer, change its geometry and impair lipid-lipid and protein-lipid interactions in lenticular fiber membranes. Electron microscopy data of human lenses at various stages of age-related cataract document that these disruptions were globules, vacuoles, multilamellar membranes, and clusters of highly undulating membranes. The opaque shades of cortical cataracts represent cohorts of locally affected fibres segregated from unaffected neighbouring fibres by plasma membranes. Other potential scattering centers found throughout the mature cataract nucleus included variations in staining density between adjacent cells, enlarged extracellular spaces between undulating membrane pairs, and protein-like deposits in the extracellular space. These affected parts had membranes with a fine globular aspect and in cross-section proved to be filled with medium to large globular elements. Lipid peroxidation (LPO) is a pathogenetic and causative factor of cataract. Increased concentrations of primary molecular LPO products (diene conjugates, lipid hydroperoxides, fatty acid oxy-derivatives) and end fluorescent LPO products were detected in the lipid moieties of the aqueous humor samples and human lenses obtained from patients with senile and complicated cataracts as compared to normal donors. Utilizing the pharmacokinetic studies and the specific purity N-acetylcarnosine (NAC) ingredient as a source of pharmacological principal L-carnosine, we have created an ophthalmic time-release prodrug form combined with a muco-adhesive lubricant compound carboxymethylcellulose and other essential corneal absorption promoter excipients tailoring the increased intraocular absorption of L-carnosine in the aqueous humor and optimizing its specific effect in producing the basic antioxidant activity in vivo and reducing toxic effects of lipid peroxides to the crystalline lens. L-Carnosine that finds its way into the aqueous humor can accumulate in the lens tissue for a reasonable period of time. However, administration of pure L-carnosine (1% solution) to the rabbit eye (instillation, subconjunctival injection) does not lead to accumulation of this natural compound in the aqueous humor over 30 min in concentration exceeding that in the placebo-treated matched eyes, and its effective concentration is exhausted more rapidly. The NAC prodrug eye drops optimize the clinical effects for the treatment of ophthalmic disorders (such as prevention and reversal of cataracts in human and animal [canine] eyes). The data provided predict a particular NAC ophthalmic prodrug's clinical effect; the suitable magnitude and duration of this effect suggest dose-related bioavailability of L-camosine released from NAC in the aqueous humor of the anterior eye segment. The ophthalmic NAC drug shows promise in the treatment of a range of ophthalmic disorders which have a component of oxidative stress in their genesis (including cataract and after-cataract, glaucoma, dry eye, vitreous floaters, inflammatory disorders, corneal, retinal and systemic diseases [such as diabetes mellitus and its ophthalmic complications]). The clinical efficacy of N-acetylcarnosine lubricant eye drops in ripe cataracts and retinal disorders can be enhanced in combined treatment with a patented oral formulation (Can-C Plus) of non-hydrolyzed carnosine including synergistic compounds (histidine, D-panthethine) with chaperone activity towards lens crystallins and oral supplementation with N-acetylcysteine providing an alternate means of boosting reduced glutathione (GSH) synthesis in the lens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Aqueous Humor / metabolism
  • Carnosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carnosine / pharmacokinetics
  • Cataract / metabolism*
  • Cataract / pathology
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Synergism
  • Eye / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism
  • Lens, Crystalline / ultrastructure
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology
  • Lipid Peroxides / metabolism*
  • Liposomes
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Rabbits
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Liposomes
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • N-acetylcarnosine
  • Carnosine