Suppressive effect of astaxanthin on retinal injury induced by elevated intraocular pressure

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2010 Oct;58(1):121-30. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2010.05.001. Epub 2010 May 8.


The aim of this study was to clarify the possible protective effect of astaxanthin (ASX) on the retina in rats with elevated intraocular pressure (EIOP). Rats were randomly divided into two groups which received olive oil or 5mg/kg/day ASX for a period of 8 weeks. Elevated intraocular pressure was induced by unilaterally cauterizing three episcleral vessels and the unoperated eye served as control. At the end of the experimental period, neuroprotective effect of ASX was determined via electrophysiological measurements of visual evoked potentials (VEP) and rats were subsequently sacrificed to obtain enucleated globes which were divided into four groups including control, ASX treated, EIOP, EIOP+ASX treated. Retinoprotective properties of ASX were determined by evaluating retinal apoptosis, protein carbonyl levels and nitric oxide synthase-2 (NOS-2) expression. Latencies of all VEP components were significantly prolonged in EIOP and returned to control levels following ASX administration. When compared to controls, EIOP significantly increased retinal protein oxidation which returned to baseline levels in ASX treated EIOP group. NOS-2 expression determined by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemical staining was significantly greater in rats with EIOP compared to ASX and control groups. Retinal TUNEL staining showed apoptosis in all EIOP groups; however ASX treatment significantly decreased the percent of apoptotic cells when compared to non treated ocular hypertensive controls. The presented data confirm the role of oxidative injury in EIOP and highlight the protective effect of ASX in ocular hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Eye Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Ocular Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Protective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Protein Carbonylation / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / pathology
  • Xanthophylls / therapeutic use


  • Protective Agents
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide