Punicalagin Protects Human Retinal Pigment Epithelium Cells from Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced Oxidative Damage by Activating Nrf2/HO-1 Signaling Pathway and Reducing Apoptosis.
Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 Jun 2 ;9(6). Epub 2020 Jun 2. PMID: 32498245
Maria Elisabetta Clementi
The oxidative damage of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is the early event that underlies the pathogenesis of maculopathies. Numerous studies have shown that punicalagin (PUN), a polyphenol present in pomegranate, can protect several cell types from oxidative stress. Our study aims to establish if PUN protects RPE from UV radiation-induced oxidative damage. We used an experimental model which involves the use of a human-RPE cell line (ARPE-19) exposed to UV-A radiation for 1, 3, and 5 hours. ARPE-19 cells were pre-treated with PUN (24 h) followed by UV-A irradiation; controls were treated identically, except for UV-A. Effects of pre-treatment with PUN on cell viability, intracellular reactive oxygen species ROS levels, modulation of Nrf2 and its antioxidant target genes, and finally apoptosis were examined. We found that pre‑treatment with PUN: (1) antagonized the decrease in cell viability and reduced high levels of ROS associated with UV-A-induced oxidative stress; (2) activated Nrf2 signaling pathway by promoting Nrf2 nuclear translocation and upregulating its downstream antioxidant target genes (HO-1 and NQO1); (3) induced an anti-apoptotic effect by decreasing Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. These findings provide the first evidence that PUN can prevent UV-A-induced oxidative damage in RPE, offering itself as a possible antioxidant agent capable of contrasting degenerative eye diseases.