Oxidative stress plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of retinal degeneration. Gypenosides are the major functional components isolated from Gynostemma pentaphyllum. They have been shown to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation and have also demonstrated a protective effect on experimental optic neuritis. In order to determine the protective properties of gypenosides against oxidative stress in human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, ARPE-19 cells were treated with H2O2 or H2O2 plus gypenosides for 24 h. ARPE-19 cells co-treated with gypenosides had significantly increased cell viability and decreased cell death rate when compared to cells treated with H2O2 alone. The level of GSH, the activities of SOD and catalase, and the expression of NRF2 and antioxidant genes were notably decreased, while there were marked increases in ROS, MDA and pro-inflammatory cytokines in ARPE-19 cells exposed to H2O2; co-treatment with gypenosides significantly counteract these changes. Our study suggests that gypenosides protect RPE cells from oxidative damage and offer therapeutic potential for the treatment of retinal degeneration.
Keywords: ARPE-19; Cell death; Gypenosides; Inflammation; Oxidative stress.
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