Lycium barbarum (wolfberry, gogi berry, gouqizi, ) is one of the most widely used Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) and is also one of the most scientifically studied. Indeed, the polysaccharide component of this berry (LBP) has been shown to have antioxidant, antiinflammatory, antiexcitotoxic, and antiapoptotic properties. These properties make it a particularly useful treatment option for the ocular environment. Although there are a handful of studies investigating the use of LBP to treat diseases affecting the lens, the vast majority of the published literature investigating LBP in the visual system focus on the retina. In this chapter, we have described what is currently understood concerning the effects of LBP treatment on various retinal diseases, including glaucoma, ischemia/reperfusion, age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and diabetic retinopathy. We then describe the functions attributed to LBP using other cellular contexts to elucidate the full mechanisms this CHM utilizes in the retina. By making connections between what is known about the function of LBP in a variety of tissues and its function as a therapy for retinal degenerative diseases, we hope to further emphasize the continued use of this CHM in clinical medicine in addition to providing a platform for additional study.
Keywords: Antioxidant; Chinese herbal medicine; Immunomodulation; Lycium barbarum; Neuroprotection; Polysaccharide; Retinal degeneration; Visual system.
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