Neuroprotectants offer hope to glaucoma sufferers

July 1, 2008

Erythropoietin (EPO), ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), and wolfberry seem to provide neuroprotection of retinal ganglion cells in a rat model of ocular hypertension.

Erythropoietin (EPO), ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), and wolfberry seem to provide neuroprotection of retinal ganglion cells in a rat model of ocular hypertension, according to Kwoh-fai So, PhD, chairman of the Department of Anatomy, University of Hong Kong.

Dr So and colleagues created a rat model of ocular hypertension in which the retinal ganglion cells were affected, and tested EPO, CNTF, and wolfberry, a Chinese herb, in three separate experiments. All three seemed to be neuroprotective of the retinal ganglion cells.

“Endogenous EPO seems to have a recovery mechanism after retinal injury and the retinal ganglion cells might be rescued by endogenous EPO,” Dr So said. “CNTF enhanced regeneration and is an effective neurotrophic factor in protecting retinal ganglion cells in the rat model.

“Wolfberry is very interesting to us because it improves visual acuity, benefits the liver and kidney, and adjusts the body’s immunity and also was protective of retinal ganglion cells in this rat model,” Dr So said. “Wolfberry might be a useful treatment because it is a safe herbal medicine that has been used for a long time.”

Investigators are also studying the effect of wolfberry on microglia.