Saffron and retina: neuroprotection and pharmacokinetics

Vis Neurosci. 2014 Sep;31(4-5):355-61. doi: 10.1017/S0952523814000108. Epub 2014 May 12.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a retinal neurodegenerative disease whose development and progression are the results of a complex interaction between genetic and environmental risk factors. Both oxidative stress and chronic inflammation play a significant role in the pathogenesis of AMD. Experimental studies in rats with light-induced photoreceptors degeneration demonstrated that saffron may protect photoreceptor from retinal stress, preserving both morphology and function and probably acting as a regulator of programmed cell death, in addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Recently, a randomized clinical trial showed that in patients with early AMD, dietary supplementation with saffron was able to improve significantly the retinal flicker sensitivity suggesting neuroprotective effect of the compound. Here, we examine the progress of saffron dietary supplementation both in animal model and AMD patients, and discuss the potential and safety for using dietary saffron to treat retinal degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crocus*
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / drug therapy
  • Macular Degeneration / pathology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy
  • Retina / drug effects*
  • Retina / metabolism


  • Neuroprotective Agents