Both age related macular degeneration (AMD) and light induced retinal damage share the common major role played by oxidative stress in the induction/progression of degenerative events. Light damaged (LD) rats have been widely used as a convenient model to gain insight into the mechanisms of degenerative disease, to enucleate relevant steps and to test neuroprotectants. Among them, saffron has been shown to ameliorate degenerative processes and to regulate many genes and protective pathways. Saffron has been also tested in AMD patients. We extended our analysis to a possible additional effect regulated by saffron and compared in AMD patients a pure antioxidant treatment (Lutein/zeaxanthin) with saffron treatment. Methods: Animal model. Sprague-Dawley (SD) adult rats, raised at 5 lux, were exposed to 1000 lux for 24 h and then either immediately sacrificed or placed back at 5 lux for 7 days recovery period. A group of animals was treated with saffron. We performed in the animal model: (1) SDS-PAGE analysis; (2) Western Blotting (3) Enzyme activity assay (4) Immunolabelling; in AMD patients: a longitudinal open-label study 29 (+/- 5) months in two groups of patients: lutein/zeaxanthin (19) and saffron (23) treated. Visual function was tested every 8 months by ERG recordings in addition to clinical examination. Results: Enzymatic activity of MMP-3 is reduced in LD saffron treated retinas and is comparable to control as it is MMP-3 expression. LD treated retinas do not present "rosettes" and microglia activation and migration is highly reduced. Visual function remains stable in saffron treated AMD patients while deteriorates in the lutein/zeaxanthin group. Conclusion: Our results provide evidence of an additional way of action of saffron treatment confirming the complex nature of neuroprotective activities of its chemical components. Accordingly, long term follow-up in AMD patients reveals an added value of saffron supplementation treatment compared to classical antioxidant protocol.
- age related macular degeneration
- light induced damage
- matrix metalloproteinases
- oxidative stress