Glaucoma is a multifactorial blinding disease with a major inflammatory component ultimately leading to apoptotic retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death. Pharmacological treatments lowering intraocular pressure can help slow or prevent vision loss although the damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Recently, nutritional approaches have been evaluated for their efficacy in preventing degenerative events in the retina although mechanisms underlying their effectiveness remain to be elucidated. Here, we evaluated the efficacy of a diet supplement consisting of forskolin, homotaurine, spearmint extract, and vitamins of the B group in counteracting retinal dysfunction in a mouse model of optic nerve crush (ONC) used as an in vivo model of glaucoma. After demonstrating that ONC did not affect retinal vasculature by fluorescein angiography, we determined the effect of the diet supplement on the photopic negative response (PhNR) whose amplitude is strictly related to RGC integrity and is therefore drastically reduced in concomitance with RGC death. We found that the diet supplementation prevents the reduction of PhNR amplitude (p
< 0.001) and concomitantly counteracts RGC death, as in supplemented mice, RGC number assessed immunohistochemically is significantly higher than that in non-supplemented animals (p
< 0.01). Major determinants of the protective efficacy of the compound are due to a reduction of ONC-associated cytokine secretion leading to decreased levels of apoptotic markers that in supplemented mice are significantly lower than in non-supplemented animals (p
< 0.001), ultimately causing RGC survival and ameliorated visual dysfunction. Overall, our data suggest that the above association of compounds plays a neuroprotective role in this mouse model of glaucoma thus offering a new perspective in inflammation-associated neurodegenerative diseases of the inner retina.
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