Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Carnosine combats cataracts

In the July 28, 2009 issue of the journal Biochemistry, Italian researchers report that the dipeptide carnosine shows promise not only in preventing cataracts but also in helping to treat the condition. Cataracts, which are characterized by a clouding of the eye's lens, are a major cause of visual impairment among older men and women, and surgery is currently the only effective treatment.

Enrico Rizzarelli of the University of Catania and his colleagues tested the effects of D- and L-carnosine on bovine cultured alpha-crystallin, the major structural protein in the lens of the eye. The cultures were treated with guanidine, a compound that is known to cause cataracts via the formation of alpha-crystallin fibrils. Co-incubation of the cultures with carnosine helped inhibit fibrillation, and the addition of carnosine to pre-existing fibrils was found to almost completely dissolve them.

In another experiment, cultured rat lenses were exposed to two concentrations of guanidine with or without pretreatment with L-carnosine. While guanidine alone caused significant lens opacification after 24 hours, with further loss occurring after 72 hours, pretreatment with L-carnosine prevented lens opacification by 50 to 60 percent in cultures that received either guanidine concentration. Continue Reading

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