Effects of antioxidant treatment on normal and diabetic rat retinal enzyme activities

Barbara A. Dene, Alice C. Maritim, Ruth A. Sanders, John B. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Diabetes mellitus is characterized by hyperglycemia and, in chronic disease, by microvascular pathologies, especially in the kidney, peripheral nerve, and eye. Although hyperglycemia can be controlled with insulin and/or antihyperglycemic medications, diabetic retinopathy continues to be the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Because increased oxidative stress may be a cause of retinopathy, this study examined the hypothesis that administration of exogenous antioxidants can restore a more balanced oxidative condition. Normal and 30-day streptozotocin-induced diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats received daily intraperitoneal doses (10 mg/kg) of β-carotene, α-lipoic, and Pycnogenol® individually or in combinations for 14 days, after which retinae were dissected and fractionated for the assay of activities of glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase, γ-glutamyl transferase, and superoxide dismutase. In normal rats, treatment with antioxidant combinations led to a decrease in γ-glutamyl transferase activity; β-carotene plus pycnogenol treatment decreased the activity of both glutathione-related enzymes. Decreased retinal γ-glutamyl transferase activity of diabetic rats was normalized by the administration of pycnogenol alone or in combination with β-carotene. In diabetic rats, retinal glutathione reductase activity increased after treatment with β-carotene alone or with pycnogenol. Treatment with pycnogenol and α-lipoic acid alone or in combination decreased the activity of glutathione peroxidase, while this activity was increased after treatment with a combination of all antioxidants. Elevated activity of superoxide dismutase in diabetic retina was normalized by treatment with α-lipoic acid and with pycnogenol and β-carotene in combination, but not with all three together. Antioxidants can access the retina and, once there, can alter antioxidant enzyme activities. In both normal and diabetic rats, combinations of antioxidants have different effects on retinal antioxidant enzyme activities than do individual antioxidants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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