Washington: Rosemary herb has yielded a compound -- carnosic acid -- that promotes eye health, according to researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.
Stuart A. Lipton`s team at the institute found that carnosic acid protects retinas from degeneration and toxicity in cell culture and in rodent models of light-induced retinal damage.
Their findings suggest that carnosic acid may have clinical applications for diseases affecting the outer retina, including age-related macular degeneration, the most common eye disease in the US, the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science reports.
Age-related macular degeneration, which results in blurred vision and often blindness, likely has many underlying causes, according to a Sanford-Burnham statement.
Yet, previous studies suggest that the disease might be slowed or improved by chemicals that fight free radicals-reactive compounds related to oxygen and nitrogen that damage membranes and other cell processes.
Lipton`s team first discovered a few years ago that carnosic acid fights off free radical damage in the brain.
In their latest study, Lipton and colleagues, including Tayebeh Rezaie and Takumi Satoh, initially investigated carnosic acid`s protective mechanism in lab cultures of retinal cells.
They found that cells treated with carnosic acid triggered antioxidant enzyme production in the cells, which in turn lowered levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (cell-damaging free radicals and peroxides).
"We`re now developing improved derivatives of carnosic acid and related compounds to protect the retina and other brain areas from a number of degenerative conditions, including age-related macular degeneration and various forms of dementia," said Lipton.