Plantaginis semen, the dried ripe seed of Plantago asiatica
L. or Plantago depressa
Willd. (Plantaginaceae), has been traditionally used to treat blurred vision in Asia. The aim of this work was to investigate the effect of plantaginis semen ethanol extract (PSEE) on the amelioration of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats. PSEE has abundant polyphenols with strong antioxidant activity. PSEE (100, 200 or 300 mg/kg) was oral administrated to the diabetic rats once daily consecutively for 8 weeks. Oral administration of PSEE resulted in significant reduction of hyperglycemia, the diameter of the retinal vessels, and retinal vascular permeability and leukostasis in diabetic rats. In addition, PSEE administration increased the activities of superoxidase dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GSH) level in diabetic retinae. PSEE treatment inhibited the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and the phosphorylation of Akt without altering the Akt protein expression in diabetic retinae. PSEE not only down-regulated the gene expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β), but also reduced ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression in diabetic retinae. Moreover, PSEE reduced the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation and corrected imbalance between histone deacetylases (HDAC) and histone acetyltransferases (HAT) activities in diabetic retinae. In conclusion, phenolic antioxidants extract from plantaginis semen has potential benefits in the prevention and/or progression of DR.
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