Oxidative stress (OS) and endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) are the major factors underlying photoreceptor degeneration. Lutein, RR-zeaxanthin (3R,3’R-zeaxanthin) and RS (meso)-zeaxanthin (3R,3’S-RS- zeaxanthin) (L/Zi) could protect against cell damage by ameliorating OS in retina. In this study, we examined the effect of L/Zi supplementation in a mouse model of photoreceptor degeneration and investigated whether the treatment of L/Zi ameliorated OS and ERS. BALB/cJ mice after light exposure were used as the animal model. The protective effects of L/Zi were observed by electroretinography (ERG) and terminal deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling (TUNEL) analysis. The underlying mechanisms related to OS and ERS were explored by Western blotting. After L/Zi treatment, the ERG amplitudes were significantly higher, and the number of TUNEL-positive cells was significantly reduced compared to that of the vehicle group. Western blotting results revealed that OS was ameliorated according to the significant downregulation of phosphorylated c-Jun N-terminal kinase (p-JNK), and significant upregulation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). In addition, ERS was reduced according to the significant downregulation of 78 kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78), phosphorylated protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (p-PERK), activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and activating transcription factor (ATF6). Our data shows that L/Zi provided functional and morphological preservation of photoreceptors against light damage, which is probably related to its mitigation of oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress.
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