Lutein improves cell viability and reduces Alu RNA accumulation in hydrogen peroxide challenged retinal pigment epithelial cells

Cutan Ocul Toxicol. 2018 Mar;37(1):52-60. doi: 10.1080/15569527.2017.1335748. Epub 2017 Jun 20.


Purpose: Dysfunction of the microRNA (miRNA)-processing enzyme DICER1 and Alu RNA accumulation are linked to the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This study determined the optimal dose of lutein (LUT) and zeaxanthin (ZEA) to protect human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The effect of the optimal dose of LUT and ZEA as DICER1 and Alu RNA modulators in cultured human RPE cells challenged with H2O2 was investigated.

Materials and methods: ARPE-19 cells were pre-treated with LUT, ZEA, or both for 24 h before 200 μM H2O2 challenge. Cell viability was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. DICER1 and Alu RNA were quantified by western blotting and real-time polymerase chain reaction, respectively.

Results: H2O2 increased cell Alu RNA expression and decreased cell viability of ARPE-19, but had no significant impact on the DICER1 protein level. LUT, alone and in combination with ZEA pre-treatment, prior to H2O2 challenge significantly improved cell viability of ARPE-19 and reduced the level of Alu RNA compared to the negative control.

Conclusions: These results support the use of LUT alone, and in combination with ZEA, in AMD prevention and treatment. This study is also the first to report LUT modulating effects on Alu RNA.

Keywords: ARPE-19; Alu RNA; DICER1; Lutein; age-related macular degeneration; hydrogen peroxide; zeaxanthin.

MeSH terms

  • Alu Elements / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / toxicity*
  • Lutein / pharmacology*
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / cytology*
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism
  • Zeaxanthins / pharmacology


  • Zeaxanthins
  • RNA
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • DICER1 protein, human
  • Ribonuclease III
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • Lutein