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Chemistry - Neuroscience - Ophthalmology

Safranal, a Saffron Constituent, Attenuates Retinal Degeneration in P23H Rats
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012
Author: Laura Fernández-Sánchez et al.

by Laura Fernández-Sánchez, Pedro Lax, Gema Esquiva, José Martín-Nieto, Isabel Pinilla, Nicolás Cuenca

Saffron, an extract from Crocus sativus, has been largely used in traditional medicine for its antiapoptotic and anticarcinogenic properties. In this work, we investigate the effects of safranal, a component of saffron stigmas, in attenuating retinal degeneration in the P23H rat model of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. We demonstrate that administration of safranal to homozygous P23H line-3 rats preserves both photoreceptor morphology and number. Electroretinographic recordings showed higher a- and b-wave amplitudes under both photopic and scotopic conditions in safranal-treated versus non-treated animals. Furthermore, the capillary network in safranal-treated animals was preserved, unlike that found in untreated animals. Our findings indicate that dietary supplementation with safranal slows photoreceptor cell degeneration and ameliorates the loss of retinal function and vascular network disruption in P23H rats. This work also suggests that safranal could be potentially useful to retard retinal degeneration in patients with retinitis pigmentosa.