ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a complex disease that has potential involvement of inflammatory and oxidative stress-related pathways in its pathogenesis. In search of effective therapeutic agents, we tested curcumin, a naturally occurring compound with known anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, in a rat model of light-induced retinal degeneration (LIRD) and in retina-derived cell lines. We hypothesized that any compound effective against LIRD, which involves significant oxidative stress and inflammation, would be a candidate for further characterization for its potential application in AMD. We observed significant retinal neuroprotection in rats fed diets supplemented with curcumin (0.2% in diet) for 2 weeks. The mechanism of retinal protection from LIRD by curcumin involves inhibition of NF-kappaB activation and down-regulation of cellular inflammatory genes. When tested on retina-derived cell lines (661W and ARPE-19), pretreatment of curcumin protected these cells from H(2)O(2)-induced cell death by up-regulating cellular protective enzymes, such as HO-1, thioredoxin. Since, curcumin with its pleiotropic activities can modulate the expression and activation of many cellular regulatory proteins such as NF-kappaB, AKT, NRF2, and growth factors, which in turn inhibit cellular inflammatory responses and protect cells; we speculate that curcumin would be an effective nutraceutical compound for preventive and augmentative therapy of AMD.
Free radical biology & medicine 01/2009; 46(5):672-9. · 5.42 Impact Factor