Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senescent accelerated OXYS rats
Cataracts and macular degeneration remain the major cause of blindness and acuity of vision deterioration in the elderly. Both pathology have been attributed to damage by free radicals, there has been a great deal of interest in antioxidants. Bilberry's (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) flavonoids are known as potent antioxidants, scavenging free radicals and used for multiple age-releted ocular disorders. There are no experimental studies, devoted to estimation of bilberry effect. To explore this one the senescence-accelerated OXYS rats were used. Developed at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of Russian Academy of Sciences the OXYS rat strain is an animal model of accelerated senescence and age-related disease including early cataract and chorioretinal degeneration with clinical presentations correspond to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). From 1,5 to 3 month OXYS rats were given control diets or those supplemented with 25% bilberry extract (BE, 20mg on kg of body weight including 4,5mg of antocianidin) or vitamin E (20mg/kg) as drag for comparison. The ophthalmoscopy testing at 3 month have showed that more than 80% of control OXYS rats had cataract and macular degeneration while the supplementation of BE completely prevented impairments in the lenses and retina. The VE had no significant effects but both antioxidants decreased lipid peroxides in the retina, lens and serum of OXYS rats. The results suggest that long-term supplementation with BE is effective in prevention age-related macular degeneration and senile cataract and the OXYS rat strain is the useful model of these disorders and for screening new drugs for treatment of them.