Anthocyanins from the seed coat of black soybean reduce retinal degeneration
Anthocyanins are known to have antioxidant effects and thus may play an important role in preventing various degenerative diseases. In this study, we examined the effect of anthocyanins extracted from the seed coat of black soybean on an animal model of retinal degeneration (RD), a leading cause of photoreceptor cell death resulting in blindness. RD was induced in rats by an intraperitoneal injection of N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) (50mg/kg), a DNA-methylating agent that causes photoreceptor damage. Anthocyanins extracted from black soybean seed coat (50mg/kg) were daily administered, orally, for 1, 2, and 4 weeks after MNU injection. Electroretinographic (ERG) recordings and morphological analyses were performed. In control rats with MNU-induced retinal damage, the ERG recordings showed a gradual significant time-dependent reduction in both a- and b-wave amplitudes compared with those of normal animals. In the MNU-induced RD rats given anthocyanins for 4 weeks, ERG responses were significantly increased compared with untreated RD rats, more apparently in scotopic stimulation than in the photopic condition. However, in the MNU-injected rats given anthocyanins for 1 and 2 weeks, the increase in ERG responses was not significant. Morphologically, the outer nuclear layer, where photoreceptors reside, was well preserved in the anthocyanin-treated rat retinas throughout the experimental period. In addition, retinal injury, evaluated by immunolabeling with an antibody against glial fibrillary acidic protein, was markedly reduced in anthocyanin-treated retinas. These results demonstrate that anthocyanins extracted from black soybean seeds can protect retinal neurons from MNU-induced structural and functional damages, suggesting that anthocyanins from black soybean seed coat may be used as a useful supplement to modulate RD.