Dietary proanthocyanidins (PACs) as health-protective agents have become an important area of human nutrition research because of their potent bioactivities. We investigated the retinoprotective effects of PACs from sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) seed against visible light-induced retinal degeneration in vivo. Pigmented rabbits were orally administered sea buckthorn seed PACs (50 and 100 mg/kg/day) for 14 consecutive days of pre-illumination and seven consecutive days of post-illumination. Retinal function was quantified via electroretinography 7 days after light exposure. Retinal damage was evaluated by measuring the thickness of the full-thickness retina and outer nuclear layer 7 days after light exposure. Sea buckthorn seed PACs significantly attenuated the destruction of electroretinograms and maintained the retinal structure. Increased retinal photooxidative damage was expressed by the depletion of glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities, the decrease of total antioxidant capacity level and the increase of malondialdehyde level. Light exposure induced a significant increase of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-6) and angiogenesis (VEGF) levels in retina. Light exposure upregulated the expression of pro-apoptotic proteins Bax and caspase-3 and downregulated the expression of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. However, sea buckthorn seed PACs ameliorated these changes induced by light exposure. Sea buckthorn seed PACs mediated the protective effect against light-induced retinal degeneration via antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic mechanisms.
Keywords: RPE cells; photoreceptor; pigmented rabbit; proanthocyanidins; retinoprotection; sea buckthorn seed; visible light-induced retinal degeneration.