Short-Term Administration of Astaxanthin Attenuates Retinal Changes in Diet-Induced Diabetic Psammomys obesus

Basma Baccouche, Maha Benlarbi, Alistair J. Barber, Rafika Ben Chaouacha-Chekir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objectives: Psammomys obesus is a high-fat diet (HFD)-fed animal model of obesity and type 2 diabetes recently explored as a model of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This study tested the protective effect of the pigment astaxanthin (AST) in the P. obesus diabetic retina. Methods: Young adult P. obesus were randomly assigned to two groups. The control group received a normal diet consisting of a plant-based regimen, and the HFD group received an enriched laboratory chow. After 3 months, control and diabetic rodents were administered vehicle or AST, daily for 7 days. Body weight, blood glucose, and plasma pentosidine were assessed. Frozen sections of retinas were immunolabeled for markers of oxidative stress, glial reactivity and retinal ganglion cell bodies, and imaged by confocal microscopy. Results: Retinal tissue from AST-treated control and HFD-diabetic P. obesus showed a greater expression of the antioxidant enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). In retinas of HFD-diabetic AST-treated P. obesus, cellular retinaldehyde binding protein and glutamine synthetase in Müller cells were more intense compared to the untreated HFD-diabetic group. HFD-induced diabetes downregulated the expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein in astrocytes, the POU domain protein 3A in retinal ganglion cells, and synaptophysin throughout the plexiform layers. Discussion: Our results show that type 2-like diabetes induced by HFD affected glial and neuronal retinal cell homeostasis. AST treatment induced the antioxidant enzyme HO-1 and reduced glial reactivity. These findings suggest that diabetic P. obesus is a useful model of HFD-induced obesity and diabetes to evaluate early neuroglial retinal alterations and antioxidant neuroprotection mechanisms in DR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1189
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Eye Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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