Curcumin suppresses n-methyl-n-nitrosourea-induced photoreceptor apoptosis in sprague-dawley rats

Yuko Emoto, Katsuhiko Yoshizawa, Norihisa Uehara, Yuichi Kinoshita, Takashi Yuri, Nobuaki Shikata, Airo Tsubura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of inherited neurodegenerative human diseases characterized by the loss of photoreceptor cells by apoptosis and lead to eventual blindness. A single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of Nmethyl- N-nitrosourea (MNU), an alkylating agent, causes photoreceptor cell apoptosis within seven days in rats. Curcumin is a polyphenolic natural product with pluripotent properties including antioxidant activity. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of curcumin against photoreceptor apoptosis in a MNU-induced retinal degeneration rat model. Materials and Methods: Sevenweek- old female Sprague-Dawley rats received a single i.p. injection of 40 mg/kg MNU. Three days prior to MNU injection, daily i.p. injections of 100 or 200 mg/kg curcumin were started, and the injections were continued once daily until sacrifice. Rats were sacrificed at 6, 12, 24 and 72 h, and 7 days after MNU, and their eyes were examined morphologically and morphometrically to evaluate the photoreceptor cell ratio and retinal damage ratio in hematoxylin and eosin-stained sections. Retinal 8-hydroxy- 2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the apoptotic cell ratio in photoreceptor cells was determined in situ by TdT-mediated dUTP-digoxigenin nick-end labeling (TUNEL). Results: Curcumin (200 mg/kg) significantly (p<0.01) suppressed the loss of photoreceptor cells, as determined by the photoreceptor cell ratio at the central retina seven days after MNU, and this effect was dosedependent. At 12 h after MNU injection, when the oxidative DNA damage caused by MNU peaked, curcumin significantly reduced the level of 8-OHdG (0.78 vs. 0.50 ng/ml) (p<0.05) and the percentage of TUNEL-positive photoreceptor cells (17.5% vs. 10.8%) (p<0.05) as compared with MNUexposed, curcumin-untreated retina, respectively. Conclusion: Curcumin inhibited MNU-induced photoreceptor cell apoptosis by suppressing DNA oxidative stress. These findings indicate that curcumin may help to suppress the onset and progression of human retinitis pigmentosa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-590
Number of pages8
JournalIn Vivo
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Curcumin suppresses n-methyl-n-nitrosourea-induced photoreceptor apoptosis in sprague-dawley rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this