FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Protective role of carotenoids in the visual cycle.

PMID 29882710


Exposure to light and accumulation of aberrant visual cycle by-products causes stress in the retina. The physical and chemical properties of carotenoids may provide protection against such scenario. These pigments exist in retinas of many vertebrates, including humans. However, the absence of carotenoids in mice, the preferred ophthalmologic animal model, hindered molecular and biochemical examination of the pigments' role in vision. We established a mouse model that accumulates significant amounts of carotenoids in the retina due to inactivating mutations in the Isx and Bco2 genes. We introduced a robust light damage protocol for the mouse retina using green (532 nm) and blue (405 nm) low-energy lasers. We observed that blue but not green laser light treatment triggered the formation of aberrant retinaldehyde isomers in the retina. The production of these visual cycle by-products was accompanied by morphologic damage in inferior parts of the mouse retina. Zeaxanthin supplementation of mice shielded retinoids from these photochemical modifications. These pigments also reduced the extent of the damage to the retina after the blue laser light insult. Thus, our study discovered a novel role of carotenoids in the visual cycle and indicated that vertebrates accumulate carotenoids to shield photoreceptors from short-wavelength light-induced damage.-Widjaja-Adhi, M. A. K., Ramkumar, S., von Lintig, J. Protective role of carotenoids in the visual cycle.

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Zeaxanthin, analytical standard